Free Markets, Free People

Bribing Doctors With Your Money

Of course this sort of political bribery isn’t necessarily unusual or confined to one party. It is just a particularly blatant example of the practice that is at the heart of the rot infecting our form of government:

The White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal: They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctors’ support of healthcare reform.

At a meeting on Capitol Hill last week with nearly a dozen doctors groups, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would take up separate legislation to halt scheduled Medicare cuts in doctor payments over the next 10 years. In return, Reid made it clear that he expected their support for the broader healthcare bill, according to four sources in the meeting.

Quiz: What was one of the major means of “paying for” health care reform? That’s right – cutting payments to Medicare providers. What has Harry Reid et. al. just promised to do with this freeze? Give away those savings.

What does that then automatically do? Increase the cost of the legislation they’re proposing and making the CBO estimate of cost null and void. It also will most likely bend the cost curve up again (not that any serious person actually believed the current version would really bend it down in practice).

What does that mean? Well it means that President Obama, true to his word about not signing a bill which adds to the deficit, will veto this one if the promise is accepted.

When pig’s fly.

We all know that’s a promise he’ll be most pleased to break if he can get something – anything – to sign and call health care.

And, as an aside, making promises like this says to me that despite all the happy spin about how the administration and Democrats are regaining their health care mojo, they’re still short of what they need to pass the legislation.



8 Responses to Bribing Doctors With Your Money

  • “It also will most likely bend the cost curve down again.”

    I think you mean “bend it up”.

    Interestingly, even National Proletariat Radio caught this expiration today (they do get the news right even if their opinion pieces are in left field). I am just waiting for Anita Dunn to call them “not a news organization” or somesuch. 😉

  • Yeah, it’s a sleazy accounting trick to hide the costs of this monstrosity they’re trying to pass. And the AMA (who claims to represents us doctors but in fact has a rapidly declining membership –currently less than 25% of practicing physicians– due to its ineffectiveness, cluelessness, and political schmoozing) is despicable for having sold its soul to the administration for a crust of bread.

    That having been said, the formulaic reductions in Medicare payments to physicians — dropping their payments every time Medicare goes over budget — are a looming disaster as well. Medicare currently pays most docs at or below the cost of providing their care — and the scheduled budget neutrality cuts for this year loom at 20%. Simply put, if these cuts go through, large numbers of physicians will simply stop seeing Medicare patients, creating a huge crisis in access. Being paid less than it costs you to provide a service is not a sustainable business model (unless you’re a liberal Democrat).

    • Dr. BobSimply put, if these cuts go through, large numbers of physicians will simply stop seeing Medicare patients, creating a huge crisis in access.

      Oh, that’s an easy problem to solve: simply mandate that doctors see any patient who shows up. We’re already doing that in emergency rooms, after all. Since health care is a right, then doctors have no (ahem) right to refuse providing it. Further, as we all know, doctors are all filthy rich and providing medical care gratis to the poor is part of Paying Their Fair Share (TM). Some might call this slavery, but it’s not like we’d be paying the doctors SOMETHING.

      At least, I’m sure that’s how democrats see it.

  • Gawd, I love Obama, aka Inspector Clousseau-cialist!

    He has not a clue as to what he is doing.

    Not a clue…..

    • The problem is that this is not mostly Obama. At least not yet.

      Obama is the lightning rod for what Congress is doing. And I believe that’s intentional. Because of that tact, Congress won’t see the turnovers in 2010 that it should.

  • Doctors will fall for this. Then they will be surprised in 2013 or some other convenient time when the payments are lowered AND it becomes unlawful to refuse Medicare or Medicaid patients.

    • …and not a few docs will switch careers to something equally challenging but less enslaving. Law or Public Administration might be a good alternative given the coming increase government bloat.

      The Medical Authority cannot force me to practice medicine if I let my license expire…