President Obama spent his weekly talk on the so called Doc Fix for the Medicare program. His pitch, that rules promulgated by Congress that decreased the rates paid to doctors participating in Medicare, need to be changed to prevent that decrease from going into effect. While the President is likely right on the substance of the issue the plain truth is that Congress has been playing this shell game for years, leaving the “new rates” in place for budgetary purposes, and then allowing higher payments for the doctors when the rates are scheduled to go into effect. The President now plays the same game, without proposing any budgetary “offsets” to the higher Medicare spending. President Obama tips his hat to the criticism, saying that he recognizes that “kicking the can down the road” is not a “long term solution”. But that is what is being proposed here AGAIN.
The President rightly points out that Republicans and Democrats have kicked the can down the road on this issue since 2003, and he says he is willing to make the “difficult choices” involved in righting Medicare. It appears doubtful that anyone in Washington is willing to make any decision that will upset anyone, at any time. I understand the need for some fiscal stimulus in difficult economic times, but this is not “fiscal stimulus”. This is just plain old shirking, and it is a major reason we are in the trouble we are in today.