Sorting Fact From Fiction On ‘Doc Fix’

Jeffrey H. Anderson
Investor’s Business Daily

After all of the analysis of ObamaCare, one crucial element remains almost universally misunderstood. The plan’s pretense of deficit neutrality is based entirely on the scheduled implementation of a drastic pay cut to doctors that will never happen. But this fact has been mischaracterized by those on the right and the left alike.

Each year, the Medicare physician payment formula — passed by Congress during the Clinton administration — automatically calls for dramatic pay cuts to doctors, and each year Congress acts to avoid them.

This annual dance is popularly called the doc fix.

When the initial version of ObamaCare — the House version that spawned the August round of voter uprisings — was scored, the Congressional Budget Office said the bill would raise deficits by $239 billion from 2010 to 2019.

The scoring of this version gave credit for savings from the scheduled pay cut. It included the doc fix to negate the cut, essentially neutralizing the budgetary issue surrounding physicians’ pay.

But $239 billion in new deficit spending wasn’t going to cut it, so House Democratic leaders and the Obama administration decided to strip the doc fix out of the bill while making a few other comparatively minor spending cuts. Presto! ObamaCare was now “deficit neutral.”

This ignited a firestorm of criticism on the right. How could the Democrats pass a “comprehensive” health bill and fail to take into account the basic need for an annual doc fix to ensure that doctors get paid by Medicare at a reasonable rate?

The article continues at IBD

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