Friday, May 28, 2010

If Medicare’s So “Strong and Solvent,” Why the Doc Fix Rush?

Two major papers have stories covering the Administration’s $18 million Medicare propaganda effort – the Washington Post has a story, the Wall Street Journal an excellent editorial – but the most interesting take may come from the irony in this Associated Press piece, which notes that “for the third time this year, Congress is scrambling to stave off a hefty pay cut to doctors treating Medicare patients – even as the Obama administration mails out a glossy brochure to reassure seniors the health care program is on solid ground.”  The story goes on to relate how physicians have wearied of the constant “doc fix” patches, and includes quotes from Marilyn Moon, a former Medicare trustee, pointing out that when considering health reform, Congress should have used Medicare savings to fix the Medicare program, and specifically the SGR formula.

So even as the White House attempts to the content of defend its “educational” mailing, it’s worth asking: How “strong and solvent” is a program that needs a last-minute intervention from Democrats in Congress (funded by deficit spending, of course) to ensure seniors are actually able to see their doctors in the coming weeks?

A related word on the extenders package including the “doc fix:” While House Democrat leaders still do not appear to have settled on a strategy to pursue (or not) passage yet this week, the Senate will NOT be voting today.  Thus the final disposition of any House-passed measure will likely need to wait until after the Memorial Day recess.