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Last month I passed along the news that, in a break with recent tradition, Congress might actually do something useful and pass a permanent fix to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate, a well-meaning policy that turned out not to be sustainable at all when its formula started calling for actual cuts in payments to doctors. Every year Congress addresses this by passing a one-year “doc fix,” but recently a bipartisan effort finally came together to pass a permanent modification. Hooray!

But now it turns out that congressional Republicans enjoy the tradition of dysfunctional government too much to give it up. Sahil Kapur reports that hostage-taking is back:

House Republicans expect to vote this Friday on legislation that would risk steep, destabilizing Medicare cuts at the end of the month unless Democrats agree to a five-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate.

It mirrors some of the brinkmanship in the government shutdown fight last fall in that the GOP is using a must-pass bill as a vehicle to chop the Affordable Care Act. Democratic leaders have repeatedly rejected proposals to tinker with the mandate to buy insurance and have warned Republicans not to tie a physician payment fix to their partisan quest to unravel Obamacare.

Insurance companies oppose this. Doctors oppose this. The CBO says it would be a disaster. It obviously has no chance of passing. But it looks like Republicans are going right up to the brink once again. I guess that once you’ve tasted the thrill of threatening to shoot a hostage, nothing else quite compares.

Besides, there’s a midterm election coming up. Have I mentioned that before?

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And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

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