Heartland Institute Experts Comment on ‘Doc Fix’ Bill for Medicare

Published March 24, 2015

Leaders in the House of Representatives on Tuesday introduced legislation to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula for Medicare payments to doctors and replace it with a different formula. The legislation also would reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program until the fall of 2016. If Congress doesn’t take action, funding for that program will expire on March 31, and doctor payments from Medicare would fall by more than 20 percent.

The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“The permanent ‘doc fix’ proposal will help to provide certainty to doctors as they consider whether or not to see more Medicare patients, and from that perspective it’s a step in the right direction. But it is still simply a re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic, in that it does nothing to address the looming funding crisis of Medicare or move away from a centrally planned, government-run health care system for the nation’s seniors.

“After taking the real but modest improvement to Medicare, Congress should revisit the entire structure of the program and move it towards a market-oriented system and away from the fiscally unsustainable single-payer model.”

Sean Parnell
Managing Editor, Health Care News
Research Fellow, Health Care
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The proposed repeal-and-replace bill substitutes an ‘alternative’ method: nonpayment for work and payment for not providing services but shuffling numbers instead. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says let the sustainable growth rate happen. Just repeal the cause of the problem: price controls.

“Doctors need to set their own fees. Medicare can reimburse patients however it likes. But if doctors can ‘balance bill,’ services of value to patients will be available. If patients have to pay, they will not accept services that are worthless to them. Trash the Harvard version of the Marxist Labor Theory of Value (Medicare’s Byzantine Resource-based Relative Value Scale). Supply and demand will come into balance, patients will be able to buy time with their doctors, care will improve, and huge administrative savings will be realized.

“Price controls have failed every time they have been tried, for 40 centuries. They are evil – or at least produce evil results. Price controls produce market distortions and system gaming.”

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
[email protected]