Hostage Taking Is Back!


Last month I passed along the news that, in a break with recent tradition, Congress might actually do something useful and pass a permanent fix to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate, a well-meaning policy that turned out not to be sustainable at all when its formula started calling for actual cuts in payments to doctors. Every year Congress addresses this by passing a one-year “doc fix,” but recently a bipartisan effort finally came together to pass a permanent modification. Hooray!

But now it turns out that congressional Republicans enjoy the tradition of dysfunctional government too much to give it up. Sahil Kapur reports that hostage-taking is back:

House Republicans expect to vote this Friday on legislation that would risk steep, destabilizing Medicare cuts at the end of the month unless Democrats agree to a five-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

It mirrors some of the brinkmanship in the government shutdown fight last fall in that the GOP is using a must-pass bill as a vehicle to chop the Affordable Care Act. Democratic leaders have repeatedly rejected proposals to tinker with the mandate to buy insurance and have warned Republicans not to tie a physician payment fix to their partisan quest to unravel Obamacare.

Insurance companies oppose this. Doctors oppose this. The CBO says it would be a disaster. It obviously has no chance of passing. But it looks like Republicans are going right up to the brink once again. I guess that once you’ve tasted the thrill of threatening to shoot a hostage, nothing else quite compares.

Besides, there’s a midterm election coming up. Have I mentioned that before?

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

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