- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

President Obama would veto a House bill to scrap the formula used to set Medicare rates, because it pays for the repeal by delaying Obamacare’s individual mandate, the White House said Wednesday.

The Republican-led House is set to vote Friday on a bill to repeal the formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate, established in 1997. The formula rewards quantity instead of quality of care, according to lawmakers, and Congress overrides it each year with a “doc fix” patch that keeps reimbursement rates intact, even when the formula calls for a cut.

The repeal has bipartisan support, but the parties cannot agree on how to pay for the $100-billion plus needed to repeal the formula.

The House targeted Obamacare, calculating that a delay to the mandate requiring Americans to hold insurance would produce enough money to offset the repeal, since fewer Americans would be compelled to seek government subsidies on the law’s new marketplace.

The Obama administration says it strictly opposes putting off the mandate, because tithe rule forces younger enrollees to enter the insurance market and offset the cost of insuring older consumers with preexisting conditions.

The GOP-backed bill, the White House said, “includes an offset that would increase health insurance premiums, decrease tax credits, increase the number of uninsured, and shift costs to businesses, workers, and health care providers.”

“Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried to do over 50 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class,” the White House said in a statement of administrative policy.