Reid Threatens Session Through Christmas To Finish Business
Many insiders expect a final package will emerge that wraps the payroll tax cut extension into a broader bill that also includes other measures, like the Medicare physician payment fix, with end-of-year expiration dates.
The Washington Post: Republicans Split On Democratic Plan To Extend Payroll Tax Cut
Many predict that the tax cut will ultimately be extended as part of a broad bill that would address other budget issues facing end-of-the-year deadlines, such as an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and an adjustment of scheduled cuts to Medicare payments for doctors (Helderman, 12/6).
Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Clock Is Ticking For 'Doc Fix,' Medicare 'Extenders'
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with Jackie Judd about the prospects for an agreement this month on Medicare reimbursement rates, and what happens if nothing is done before the end of the year (12/6). Listen to the interview or read the transcript.
The Associated Press: House Bill To Raise Medicare Premiums For Wealthy
House Republicans intend to propose a gradual increase in Medicare premiums for wealthy seniors to help cover the cost of renewing Social Security payroll tax cuts and benefits for the long-term unemployed, officials said Wednesday. The precise details remain to be worked out as the leadership consults with rank-and-file Republicans about the legislation, which has grown significantly in recent days and is expected on the House floor next week (Espo, 12/6).
The Wall Street Journal: Latest Payroll-Tax Plans Fail To Gain Traction
Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday struggled to make progress on renewing an expiring payroll-tax cut, pointing to a bumpy road ahead if Congress is to act before its target adjournment date for the year of next Friday (Peterson and Hughes, 12/6).
Politico: GOP Won't Go Down Without A Tax Fight
All this needs to be resolved soon or the Social Security payroll tax will go up next year for every working American; unemployment benefits will run dry; and doctors who treat Medicare patients will have their fees cut. House Republicans are expected to delay any action until next week (Raju and Sherman, 12/6).
Politico: Reid Threatens Sessions Through Christmas
If the Senate fails to wrap up business this month, Majority Leader Harry Reid could turn into the Grinch. …"We are not going to leave Washington until we pass the extenders and until we pass the payroll tax cut … unemployment compensation, omnibus, and I'm missing one thing," Reid said at a news conference after the weekly caucus lunch, echoing his similar threats for Christmases past. "Anyway, there are five things that we have to do." The forgotten fifth item, aides said, is the extension of the so-called "doc fix," which pays for the reimbursement formula for Medicare providers. That expires at on Dec. 31, along with a number of other tax provisions, including the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for those out of work (Wong, 12/6).
Meanwhile, specific plans to pay for a permanent Medicare payment 'fix' continue to draw headlines -
The Hill: House Republicans Shoot Down Hopes For Permanent Medicare Payment 'Fix'
House Republicans on Tuesday dashed the physician lobby's hopes for a permanent "fix" to the Medicare payment formula. The American Medical Association had pinned its hopes on the 21-member GOP Doctors Caucus, which the industry group hoped would sell leadership on a permanent "doc fix" paid for with savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, several of those lawmakers told The Hill that the pay-for is unacceptable and that a two-year fix is the most doctors can expect for the holidays (Pecquet, 12/6).
Politico Pro: Reid Says War Savings Could Go To SGR
The Senate's top Democrat on Tuesday expressed support for using war savings to pay for the "doc fix," a position that has gained traction among some Republicans. "I believe strongly that we have to do something with the SGR, the so-called doc fix," Reid said, referring to Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula. "This is not something to give the doctors a big fat present. It's something we have to do" (DoBias, 12/6).
Medscape: Congress Mulling 2-Year Medicare 'Doc Fix' With No Raise
A last-minute plan is shaping up in Congress to postpone a massive reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians for 2 years, and freeze rates in the meantime. ... Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN), vice chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus in the House, told Medscape Medical News that ... he would prefer a separate vote on the doc fix to keep it out of partisan crossfire over the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. However, he suggested that lawmakers who are intent on an omnibus bill view the bipartisan support of a doc fix as leverage (Lowes, 12/6).