[Posted by Karl]
A dozen Democrats — and Independent Joe Lieberman — joined all 40 Senate Republicans to block a permanent repeal of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula for doctors, as there was no consensus over how to pay the $247 billion 10-year price tag. Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid wanted the “doc fix” as a payoff to keep the American Medical Association on board for ObamaCare — so naturally, he blamed the AMA for failing to deliver 27 GOP votes. The AMA was not amused:
The reference to 27 votes was made well before S. 1776 was introduced and in the context of bipartisan health reform legislation,” said J. James Rohack, AMA president. “The majority of Democrats and Republicans support SGR repeal for seniors and baby boomers, but today’s vote appears to be becoming the victim of Senate politics. Congress needs to fulfill its obligation to seniors, baby boomers and military families, and repeal of the SGR is an essential element for health reform to succeed.” (Emphasis added.)
Accordingly, I doubt docs are going to be too impressed with Reid’s comment that “We’ll take this up again when we finish healthcare.” Moreover, Reid knows he may be forced to take it up sooner:
Aides to Mr. Reid said they had no choice but to try to fix the doctor payment formula ahead of debate on the larger health care legislation. Otherwise, they said, an amendment would be offered on the Senate floor to add the formula adjustment to the bill, pushing the overall price-tag of the legislation above $1 trillion and seriously imperiling its chances.
(BTW, if you want a study in media bias, compare the NYT blog post I just linked and quoted to the standard NYT story, in which Poor Harry is the victim of those Rascally Republicans, despite having a caucus of 60. But I digress.)
So Reid, in one fell swoop: (1) failed to keep his caucus together on a cloture vote on healthcare just ahead of a massive battle on the issue; (2) failed to deliver a payoff to one of the Dems’ allies on the issue; (3) blamed that ally for his own incompetence; (4) created the likelihood of a damaging amendment and a bruising floor fight when he brings ObamaCare to the floor; (5) gave the GOP “Exhibit A” for the case that the Dems are running a dishonest shell game to hide the true costs of ObamaCare.
Heckuva job, Harry!