Congressional liberals are working overtime. In case you missed it, hidden behind the non-stop news coverage of the health care debate, the Senate-passed extenders bill includes several health care provisions that follow the same flawed policies of the big Stimulus Bill. Once again, these provisions  move the health care system in the wrong direction.

  • COBRA or Nothing. The bill would give premium relief only to those unemployed workers who opt for COBRA coverage. It is well documented that COBRA coverage is one of the most expensive options available to those who lose their jobs. Workers would be better served if they were able to decide whether to use this temporary assistance on COBRA or another more affordable option, including policies available in the individual market.
  • Another Medicaid Bailout. The bill would continue to use federal taxpayer funds to bailout state Medicaid programs. While state budgets are crippled by Medicaid, the solution is not to transfer the cost on the federal taxpayers. Instead, Congress should get serious about Medicaid reform and grant states the flexibility they need to fix the program.
  • More Delay on the Doctor Fix. The bill would delay automatic Medicare reimbursement cuts to doctors. Cleverly, Congressional leaders removed this costly fix from their health care overhaul and instead have kicked the can down the road one more time. This will enable them to say that the health care legislation is deficit neutral. Senate Congressional leaders should get serious about a permanent fix of the Medicare reimbursement for doctors once and for all, and find some way to offset its cost, rather than adding the additional costs to the deficit.

This bill is a good reminder that even if the massive health care overhaul fails, health care is not dead. Ill-advised health care proposals gain support in different forms, and can be enacted in bite-sized bits.