Sad to say, the optimism in a post I wrote a month ago was misplaced. “Don’t look now, but we’re actually governing!” was quite misleading. While it’s true that the bipartisan legislation passed with overwhelming support from both parties and it solved the “doc fix” dilemma that had been frustrating doctors and legislators for years, it does so at a significant cost (surprise, surprise!).
The physicians were being paid successively less each year, and many were threatening to leave Medicare while others had already left. The new legislation will give them a guaranteed 0.5 percent pay hike for the next five years. While the doctors win, wealthier seniors (earning $133,500 to $214,000 yearly) will pay more for their medical insurance and prescription drug coverage.
Somebody has to pay, not just seniors. Medicare’s budget will be cut by billions of dollars. Spending for long-term care (hospice, home health services, nursing homes) will also be reduced. A reason to cheer, though, is the two-year extension of CHIP, the Children’s Health Care Program.
Pres. Obama is extremely happy to sign the second most significant health care bill after the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. The Tea Party of course isn’t happy. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) denounced the bill because it will add to the deficit. (These presidential contenders seem to be going out of their way to antagonize significant sectors of the electorate with their stances on immigration, gay marriage, and now seniors.)