Harry Reid's disingenuousness on health care reform

The Senate Majority Leader is pulling out all the stops to get health care reform passed. And the way he is trying to do it is just plain dishonesty.

From an editorial in the Washington Post:

IN THE WORLD according to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), setting Medicare payment levels for doctors has nothing to do with health reform. Really. "Correcting the Medicare doctors' payment discrepancy is a budgetary problem -- health insurance reform tackles a serious regulatory problem," Reid's office said in a statement. "That's why we need to fix the Medicare doctors' payments first, outside of health reform."

Where to start with this? First off, $247 billion -- the 10-year cost of the fix -- is one whopper of a "discrepancy." Dealing with that "discrepancy" amounts to more than one-quarter of the cost of health reform. President Obama has vowed that health reform will not add a single dime to the deficit -- but he is seemingly unfazed about adding more than a quarter-trillion dollars to the deficit by changing the Medicare reimbursement formula without finding a way to pay for it.

Second, Mr. Reid's attempt to distinguish the budgetary and regulatory issues is nonsensical. The health reform measure includes all sorts of changes in the ways that various providers are compensated. True, the problem with inadequate Medicare payments is something of a preexisting condition to health reform, but that does not make it unrelated. The so-called doc fix is being rushed to the Senate floor this week in advance of health reform not because it has nothing to do with health reform but because it has everything to do with it.

Indeed, by passing the boost in Medicare payments to doctors prior to bringing the bill to the floor, Reid can argue that it is not part of health care reform and therefore, the quarter of a billion cost should not be counted toward the total cost of reform.

Ed Lasky adds:

He lives in 1984: anti-terror operations are dealing with man- made disasters; the government taking money from us to pay for health care does not constitute a tax; and a money-laded boondoggle is a regulatory issue (then why use the budget reconciliation process to ram it through)?

I would anticipate other tricks by Reid to get enough Democrats - and probably some Republicans - on board the final package before all is said and done.

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