“YES” on Lee Motion to Strike Pay-Go Exemption from “Doc Fix” Package

Today, Senators will vote on a motion to strike Sec. 525 from the House-passed Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2), the so-called permanent doc fix. The amendment, offered by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% would strike the bill’s provision exempting it from PAYGO.  If adopted with a majority vote, the change would require Congress to offset the $141 billion cost of the bill, including at least $7 billion this year.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), H.R. 2 would add $141 billion to the federal debt within the traditional ten-year budget window, while some estimates place the 20-year cost to taxpayers at roughly $500 billion.  The Lee Amendment would not kill the bill or its underlying changes, it would simply guarantee Congress another bite at the apple to enact further entitlement reforms.

The massive cost to taxpayers stems from the lack of accompanying reforms.  The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit, Ph.D., describes the reforms in H.R. 2 as “timid.”  According to Moffit, the “means-testing is slight—much smaller than most other proposals” and “change itself would be not go into effect until 2018.”  The Medigap portion of the deal is, according to Moffit, “paltry and delayed until 2020.”  Not only are these reforms inadequate, the bill itself represents a huge missed opportunity for the types of real entitlement reforms that should accompany any repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

Striking the PAYGO exemption would keep the pressure on Congress to address our nation’s growing health entitlement problems before it is too late — just as they promised.  As Lee wrote in the Deseret News (UT), Congress is currently finalizing a budget resolution the represents a mere promise fiscal restraint, even as it is attempting to pass a bill with a PAYGO loophole that explicitly violates this notion.  Lee’s motion to strike Sec. 525 would “require Congress to budget for the costs like we promised we would.”

If the motion to strike is agreed to, Heritage Action will remove its key vote against the underlying bill.

Heritage Action supports Lee’s motion and will include it as a key vote on the legislative scorecard.

Heritage Action Scorecard
WSJ: House ‘Doc Fix’ Bill Makes Things Worse, Medicare Analysis Finds
Heritage: Medicare Report: House ‘Doc Fix’ Bill Not Permanent Fix, Pays Doctors Less in Long Run
Heritage Action: What They’re Saying about H.R. 2: The Senate can and should do better
Key Vote: NO on $500 Billion Doc Fix Deal (H.R 2)