Health Care Potpourri

1. The Medicare doctor fix has gotten cheaper. Yesterday the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate for the House proposal to make a permanent “fix” to the rates that Medicare pays doctors (as you may recall, those rates are scheduled to be cut by more than 20% at the end of the year). The ten-year price tag? $210 billion. That’s down from the earlier $245 billion cost because of an arcane change in Medicare regulations (in addition, it’s now being scored separate from other parts of health reform).

2. The House Republican alternative to the House bill would cost much less, but cover many fewer people. According to another cost estimate released yesterday, CBO estimates that the Republican alternative would spend $61 billion over ten years on expanding coverage versus $1.055 trillion in the House bill. In return, their proposal would reduce the number of uninsured by 3 million in 2019 versus 36 million under the House bill.

3. Over at EconomistMom, Diane Lim Rogers has a nice piece about some of the tax increases that the House bill would use to pay for health care reform. Her concern? That they look a lot like the tax increases currently scheduled under the alternative minimum tax. Congress always steps in to prevent the AMT from biting more deeply. Why would things be different with a new AMT-like tax?

4. Confused by all the different cost measures being thrown around in the health debate? Over at e21 (the new think tank), I’ve tried to provide some clarity about the leading measures and how they stack up for the House bill and the Senate Finance bill: “How much do the health bills really cost?