The “Doc Fix” Fix

As Paul Waldman explains at The Plum Line this morning, Republicans and Democrats appear very likely to have decided on a bipartisan bill to permanently adjust physician’s reimbursement rates for Medicare, and to thereby avoid the messy annual ritual of the “doc fix,” a temporary laying-aside of legislation that would otherwise force deep cuts in those rates. Waldman meditates at some length on how and why this is happening, but his bottom line is that the balance of incentives and disincentives favors it for both parties, which is rarely the case.

I’d add that the “doc fix” has simply become a royal pain in the butt. Each year it forces pols from both parties to torture their rhetoric on the budget and health care generally, and Medicare specifically, in a way that reveals the arbitrary nature of the reimbursement system and of Medicare financing as well. Who needs that when both Democrats and Republicans like to project themselves as the defenders of Medicare from [take your pick] Paul Ryan or Barack Obama?

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.