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An Open Letter to the House of Representatives: Don't Deceive Taxpayers by Hiding Health Care Reform Costs!
November 3, 2009
On behalf of the millions of members represented by the undersigned groups, we urge you to oppose H.R. 3961, the "Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act," and its appalling and dishonest attempt to mask the tremendous costs health care reform will impose upon American families and businesses. Considering the enormity and complexity of our health care system, the American people deserve honesty and transparency in a reform debate. This kind of legislative scheming fails to live up to the high standards to which this Congress claims to aspire.
Introduced by Representative John Dingell (D-MI), H.R. 3961 would raise reimbursements for physicians through Medicare to the tune of more than $200 billion over 10 years. While this so-called "doc fix" has merit under the right circumstances as a means of preventing further erosion of physician participation in the Medicare program, this legislation contains no spending reductions elsewhere to offset its considerable cost. Quite simply, this bill serves as a deceptive measure to reduce the perceived cost of various plans for comprehensive health care overhaul.
One such piece of legislation was unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and was announced as having received a 10-year cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office of $894 billion. It achieved a score significantly lower than earlier proposals at least in part by reducing physician reimbursements through Medicare. By engineering a $200+ billion reversal of part of the massive health care bill in separate legislation, it is clear that some leaders in Congress have no intent of allowing those reductions to take effect.
If Congress seeks a "doc fix," it should draft it into comprehensive health care reform legislation and allow it to be debated in proper context. Splitting higher reimbursements into a separate piece of legislation can only be an underhanded bait-and-switch attempt to deceive an American public that deserves better.
George Watson, D.O.
Susan A. Carleson
Thomas A. Schatz