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Don’t ‘Gruber’ Medicare, Conservative Group Tells Congress

Club for Growth, a free-market advocacy group, called on Republicans to offset Medicare fixes with real spending cuts in a press release on Monday.

Congress has passed a “doc fix” every few months to a year since 2003, when a spending formula called Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) was scheduled to begin cutting physician reimbursement rates to control Medicare spending.”

However, Congress has delayed these scheduled payment cuts 17 times in the last 11 years, responding to pressure from the health care lobby and concerns that cutting the reimbursement rate would drive doctors out of the program. (RELATED: Study: Doctors Say No to Medicaid)

The arrangement works out well for members of Congress, argues the James Madison Institute’s Sal Nuzzo, because they can “hold the carrot of a doc fix over the heads of lobbyists and special interests as a way to extort campaign contributions.” (RELATED: Medicare’s Doc Fix Insanity)

Yet, because these temporary fixes leave SGR officially on the books, “the Congressional Budget Office is forced to operate under the assumption that the SGR will be adhered to,” forcing the agency to project lower Medicare spending even as it can predict with relative certainty that Congress will once again postpone implementation of the cuts.

As a result of this practice, Club for Growth president Chris Chocola says, “We’ve seen members of both parties abuse the CBO’s methodology to make it seem like they’re cutting spending when really all they’re doing is punting the pain to future Congresses.”

“Americans are sick and tired of politicians avoiding tough choices and then making up budget data to claim that they’re being fiscally responsible,” Chocola claimed. (RELATED: Conservatives Slam Rushed Controversial House Vote)

“Republicans should absolutely offset a Doc Fix with real spending cuts, but they shouldn’t ‘Gruber’ the offset,” he added, noting that, “Jonathan Gruber did it with Obamacare and Republicans should not do it with the Doc Fix.”

Jonathan Gruber is the Obamacare architect whose comments about a lack of transparency in the health care law raised eyebrows when recently made public.

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