Congress is gearing up for another showdown over Obamacare, and all signs are that it will end the same as all the others: with the law largely in place.
House Republicans hope to use a perennial bill to fix Medicare spending rates as a way to force Senate Democrats and President Obama to delay the 2010 health care law's individual insurance mandate.
In plain English: House Republicans hope to do the same sort of hostage-taking over key Obamacare components that they did during the government shutdown last fall. Only this time, the penalty for Democrats not agreeing is that doctors could see their Medicare payments cut by more than 24 percent.
As with the last round of negotiations, the problem is that this hostage isn't one Republicans are particularly keen to see hurt either.
Doctors have historically been aligned with the Republican Party (although that relationship has weakened somewhat in recent years) while Medicare serves senior citizens, another group that traditionally has backed the GOP. Both groups would protest loudly if the so-called “doc fix” to Medicare rates isn't passed.
(The “doc fix” is one of the major problems that Congress created for itself, in this case by poorly writing a spending formula back in 1997. As a side note, Democrats discussed fixing it permanently in the Obamacare legislation but decided against it because it would cost $300 billion.)
The Republican proposal on the table is likely to be another largely symbolic fight, with House Republicans sending a bill to the Senate, Senate Democrats rejecting it and the two coming to a last-minute compromise on extending the “doc fix.”
In other words, this week should play out exactly like all the other fights over Obamacare.