March 19, 2010
"The memo hit the inbox about noon Friday, looking for all the world like Democratic talking points for health reform..."
"There would seem to be two possibilities. One is an outright hoax, with some dirty trickster hunched over a keyboard to fashion a memo so realistic-sounding in substance and tone that even seasoned health reporters could get fooled.
The other is a more complicated explanation --- perhaps a draft that somehow got into circulation, even before it was widely seen within the party staff and committees, but nonetheless represents the point of view of the Democrats heading into a critical weekend vote.
The memo's most explosive statement is that Democrats planned a so-called "doc fix" to Medicare reimbursement rates later this year, but don't want to talk about it ahead of Sunday's vote because it's going to cost billions.
So if the memo's a fake, does that mean there's no "doc fix" in the works?
No, Democrats are planning to adjust Medicare reimbursement rates, just not until later this year. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as much in a news conference Friday.
And Democrats haven't exactly been trumpeting that fact ahead of the vote, because Republicans have pounced on it as evidence the Democrats' health reform efforts aren't really deficit-neutral, but would in fact expand the federal budget.
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami declined to discuss the substance of the memo, specifically whether the White House and congressional Democrats are working with doctors' groups to introduce a "doc fix" after reform is finished...."
Lol .... With that story in mind, I would love to hear what Ya'll think about what these two women have said about that same subject (about the doctor fix).
First, a video of Mary Landrieu being interviewed by Greta Susteren, followed by the relevant text of what she says from the video.
If the video doesn't play, try it here.
Greta: 9:02 One of the things that's not included is the so called doctor fix, which is 250 to 315 billion dollars depending on who gives you the number; that is being excluded from the number. 9:12 Would it not be the right thing to do to include it in the number so the American people can see truly what this is gonna cost? 9:19 They may think it's a good idea, or a bad idea, I'm not sayin whether if doctor fix is a good idea or a bad but... 9:22 Why not put it in the number?
Landrieu: 9:24 Well I'll tell you why not. Even though technically it would probably be according to the book the thinig to do. 9:30 If we put that 300 billion dollars in, we have to take 300 billion of something else out, and what's going to come out is help for the elderly .
Greta: 9:38 Why?
Landrieu: Because of the score... there's a cap ...
Greta: Maybe we should change the cap...
Landrieu: 9:41 Well, maybe we should, but then the bill gets quite large and it's very difficult to pay for ...
Greta: 9:45 and it's hard to sell it
Landrieu: No it's not hard to sell. You have to either raise that number ya have to either raise that in additional taxes, or cut services to either the elderly, who are trying to get help with their presciption drugs, or eliminate preventive care; and it's not necessary, because technically 9:59 those cuts aren't even going to happen
Greta: 10:01 But explain to me .... I don't understand how if we're gonna have to pay this number anyway, the doctor fix ....
Landrieu: 10:09 But yer not gonna pay it ... we are not going to pay it.
Greta: 10:12 We're not paying the doctor fix?
Landrieu: No. Because we never, we n... we say ... This is what we did a couple years ago a couple years 10:18 And I really wasn't here I don't think when this started but I think I know a little about it. 10:22 We said that to save money and health care we're going to cut doctors and hospitals 10 percent every year. We've never implemented that. 10:32 We've never implemented it
Greta: We've never cut the doctors ...
Landrieu: 10:35 Well, we've never cut them I don't think regularly 10 or 20 per cent every year because it's unssustatiable 10:40 That's the way we used to fix healthcare; we just cut hospitals and doctors. That's not right, we don't need to cut hospitals and doctors. We need to change the system. And that's what this healthcare bill attempts to do. 10:51 Change the incentive. So everyone is tryhing their best to deliver better quality healthcare for lower cost, so we don't have to keep cutting hospitals and doctors again.
Greta: 11:00 So you're telling me that if we do this healthcare bill according to the Democratic plan, that this so called doctor fix will be irrelevant because doctors won't need to be fixed? Is that what you're saying?
Landrieu: 11:12 Because doctors shouldn't be cut. Because the cost of health care will come down because of streamlining processes that we put in ... [subject change]
Mmm... Why not include the doctor fix?
At first Ms. Landrieu says, the reason it's not included is "because of the cap" ... well she doesn't say it but what that means is if it's included, it raises the price of the bill too much and won't be "deficit neutral" and therefore would be harder to sell (even though she denies that particular point, it's clear that's what she is saying even if she doesn't quite realize it herself).
Then she does indeed seem to say the doctor fix will be irrelevant ... and not needed, except that she started out saying, (after she talked about why it wasn't included), that if they did things by the book, it probably should be included.
But why would it need to be included if it was not going to be needed? +sigh+
Then there is this, from Ms. Pelosi:
Q: Madam Speaker, on the Medicare question, the so-called doctor fix, can you speak to why that was not included in this legislation?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we have been including it in legislation for a long time, because it's not about a doctor fix, it's about our seniors or anyone who relies upon Medicare to have access to physicians, that they be in their region and in their program.
So this is again, you call it the doctor fix, but it is really about access to health care for Americans. It's not in this bill, but we will have it soon. And we have made a commitment to do this. This is very important.
Q: Doesn't it also add then to the deficit? I mean, if you save a certain billion, and then you address this problem later, you go negative in the deficit?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, we will see how we advance the bill. But last year, when we did our budget, we had a number of issues that were not part of pay as you go. They were a CR, the sustainable growth rate, which is what you are referencing; they were middle class tax cuts; and the AMT. And that is what we are, that's what we have addressed. As we go forward, and it will be soon, we will address that, because it is necessary mostly for our seniors, but anyone who has access to Medicare services.
Mmm... she seems to be saying something completely different to Mary Landrieu's understanding of the thing.
As the article at the beginning references, she says, "It's not in this bill, but we will have it soon."
Sounds like one of these ladies doesn't know what she is talking about, or the subject itself is a sore spot they'd rather not talk about, and would say any gobbledygook in order to get to a different subject.
Keeping those possibilities in mind, take a look at what seems to be some great doublespeak from Ms. Pelosi in answer to the second part of the question.
What I mean is, the question as I understand it was, "If the doctor fix is added later, doesn't it then add to the deficit [even though it's not actually included in the present incarnation of the bill]?" ----Said another way .... Address it now or address it later doesn't it still add to the deficit, to the cost ... doesn't it still take the healthcare bill above the cap etc etc. The answer she gave was classic Pelosi gobbledy goop in regard to the question asked. in any case, seems that way to me.
The point is, if they were truly honest about the numbers (including the price of all the bribes and deals as well as the 'doctor fix' ... not to mention that the price is at present based on "assumptions" rather than realities, without even taking into account the doctor fix), we'd all see of course it will raise the price and the deficit, and can't possibly save money or be deficit neutral. They've tweeked the numbers to stay below the cap ... but will put what they kept out today back in tomorrow.
Kind of the opposite of what Blimpy used to say to Popeye. "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for the price of a hamburger today."
Instead of the price of a hamburger ...Pelosi will gladly spend tomorrow on what she is trying not to talk about or include today.
Oh, and BTW ....
The Congressional Budget Office late Friday released some new figures pertaining to the health care reform bill that suggest Democrats were able to dodge creating a deficit by removing a section of the legislation that they will have to pass later.
The $940 billion health care bill excludes a provision that would prevent automatic, steep cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. Such a provision would cost $208 billion over the next decade and if it were included in the Democratic health care plan, would end up increasing the deficit by $59 billion over ten years.
Democrats left the provision out of the health care bill in order to keep the plan from costing money instead of saving money. As currently written, the bill would save $138 billion over the first ten years, the CBO determined.
But Republicans argue this does not provide a true cost for the bill, since everyone knows the costly "doc fix" will have to be paid for somehow."
... And Pelosi herself said ... "It's not in this bill, but we will have it soon."
Wonder what else they have "left out" to make the bill "look good" ON PAPER, but that will have to be 'put back in' ....er spent, at some point later on?