Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the cost of a Republican-led bill to permanently “fix” the Medicare fee schedule for physicians. The cost to taxpayers? $175 billion over ten years. To put that in perspective, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s May 2013 budget outlook, the ObamaCare’s effect on health spending is that it will cost $1.8 trillion over ten years. So, this so-called permanent doc fix would cost almost one tenth the entire cost of ObamaCare.
How can anyone possibly call that a “fix?
This blog has addressed the doc fix before. To recap: Medicare pays most doctors fee for service. However, the fees are drawn out of an aggregate spending estimate that is supposed to increase annually by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). For many years now, the SGR has not kept pace with physicians’ practice costs. So, at least once (and usually two or three times) a year Congress has to pass a short term “fix” that blows the cap off the SGR, restoring physicians’ fees. Without another “fix”, physicians’ fees will drop by 24 percent on January 1.