Let us kill it with FIRE.
Background: the ‘doc fix’ is one of those things that happens in Dizzy City with alarming regularity. Basically, it was set up in order to control Medicare costs by linking Medicare subsidies to doctors to annual growth; if costs rose too high, Medicare payments to doctors would shrink. Nice feedback loop – only thing is, the first year it was supposed to come into effect (2002) the medical lobby started screaming, and it turns out that the medical lobby has a lot of money for lobbying. So since then the government has been ‘fixing’ the ‘problem’ on a year by year basis so that Medicare payments to doctors would not be reduced (this cost the government $30 billion last year, by the way). And if you’re wondering why they simply don’t fix the numbers permanently, or let the cuts go in fully… well. It turns out that the CBO is required to assume that Congress is NOT going to extend the ‘doc fix’ until it actually does, which means that the budget (when we have one) can actually get away with not taking that $30 billion into account when it comes to calculating expenditures. Thirty billion here, thirty billion there: add it all up and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.
With me so far? Good. So let’s kill the ‘doc fix.’