A long-term fix for Medicare’s physicians’ pay problem got the House’s stamp of approval Friday, but the bill is going nowhere because it also delays Obamacare’s individual mandate.
The House passed, 238-181, the measure that would repeal and replace the flawed SGR formula that institutes annual payment cuts to doctors who provide services to Medicare beneficiaries.
But the cost of the bill is offset by a five-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and the White House has already issued a statement that the president would veto it if it arrives on his desk.
Without the individual mandate, fewer Americans would sign up for Medicaid or private insurance on the health law’s exchanges. In total, 13 million people would forgo insurance, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, resulting in lower federal expenditures on the Medicaid program and the premium tax credits designed to make private coverage more affordable.
“There is no reason for the House Republicans to put the doctor community through this charade again,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., in an impassioned floor speech. “We had, in fact, been making remarkable progress on a bipartisan solution. Instead the Republicans have hijacked those negotiations and made it so bad that even the American Medical Association rejects it.”
In a letter to Congress earlier this week, the powerful doctors’ lobby expressed “profound disappointment that a strong bipartisan, bicameral effort to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) has become a victim of partisan approaches to resolve budgetary issues.”
Friday’s vote comes after negotiations on a realistic pay-for have stalled movement on the bill. Republicans argued on the floor that Democrats had no other suggestion about how to pay for the fix.
“We have at the end of the month a cliff where our providers under Medicare are looking at a 24 percent cut,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. “The other side is engaging in political theatre. The other side “¦ believes that we should continue to do what we do in Washington and pass policy without paying for it.”
Congress has until March 31 to come to an agreement — or pass another temporary “doc fix” — to avert an automatic cut to doctors’ pay.
What We're Following See More »
Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."