The GOP is trying a new tactic for bringing down Obamacare and I while I don't think it will actually get Obamacare repealed in the forthcoming Congress, it might be a useful exercise. Medicare is set to cut reimbursements to health care providers by 25 percent. If the cut goes through, it might be tougher for many old people to continue seeing the same providers. The GOP is looking to pass a "Doc Fix" which would keep Medicare reimbursements at the current level. This would of course cost more money, but the money to pay for the Doc Fix would come from shifting money from Obamacare to Medicare. I especially like Douglas Holtz-Eakin's idea of trying to take money from the future Obamacare subsidies to finance the Doc Fix.
It's a neat trick that won't work, but might do some good. As Jonathan Chait points out, the Senate will probably not pass and Obama would in any case veto a bill that shifted funds out of Obamacare. So what? The fight would dramatize that Obamacare took money out of an already underfunded Medicare program to create an expensive new subsidy that won't even exist until years from now - if ever.
So I'm for this tactic, but only tepidly. Most old people already know that Obamacare robbed Medicare and dramatizing this could have real, but only limited benefits. I'm not even sure how many Americans will even hear of (never mind understand) the controversy. Even one concrete state-level initiative to significantly increase the availability and usage of consumer-driven health insurance policies (and the attendant controversies with the HHS bureaucracy and with congressional Republicans cheering the state government on) would do more good in eroding the policy and political basis for Obamacare - though it isn't an either/or matter.
Steve Manacek explains how Obama's turn toward the center is mostly show. Keep in mind that Obama's immoderation is less in what he does over the next 2-3 years than what he can prevent from happening. As Reihan Salam has... Read More