“Doc Fix” Puts Congress in a Fix

The debate that won’t end drags on in the Senate as legislation to extend tax breaks, expanded unemployment insurance and the Medicare “doc fix” didn’t come close to getting 60 votes in a key procedural vote. The 45-52 vote failing to waive a budget point of order means the bill will undergo more changes to trim its cost.

A likely change will be to shorten the length of the so- called “doc fix.” The Senate version originally postponed cuts to physician Medicare payments through 2011. The issue has been kicked around more than any soccer ball in South Africa. Postponing the cuts for a shorter period of time is like putting off that yearly physical exam – it may delay hearing the usual exhortations from the doctor to change your diet and exercise habits, but does nothing to better one’s health. A shortened “fix” only means that it will be extended again sooner and does nothing to improve the nation’s fiscal condition.

The constant extensions only prove that the “doc fix” is no fix at all. It merely puts off dealing with an unsustainable situation. Maybe we should just extend it by the hour; that would provide a smaller price tag per extension while underscoring the absurdity of the exercise.