Lawmakers Move Closer To Completing Legislative To-Do List
Still remaining on the list, however, is action to prevent a scheduled reduction in Medicare payments for physicians. A proposal to avert this cut is included in a broader measure that would extend the payroll tax break.
The Washington Post: Congress Edges Toward A Compromise On Spending
It appears increasingly likely that, with little fuss, lawmakers will approve a bipartisan compromise in coming days that will keep government running past Friday, when a short-term funding measure that has kept the lights on expires. … Before concluding work for the year, Congress must tackle other major issues as well, including figuring out how to avert a scheduled deep cut in reimbursement rates paid to doctors under Medicare and whether to extend benefits for the unemployed (Helderman, 12/11).
The New York Times: Price Tag Hindering Congress In Struggle To Pass Year-End Legislation
Unless lawmakers step in, doctors treating Medicare patients will see a 27 percent cut in reimbursements in January. House Republicans would block the cut and replace it with increases of 1 percent a year in 2012 and 2013. That would cost $39 billion, the budget office estimates. The cost of a 10-year fix, $300 billion or more, is so high that Congress is not seriously considering it. A statutory formula sets annual goals for Medicare spending on doctors' services. … Medicare payments to doctors have a direct impact on beneficiaries. AARP and other advocates for older Americans say they fear that some beneficiaries would lose access to their doctors and that fewer doctors would see Medicare patients if payments were reduced (Pear, 12/11).
Los Angeles Times: Congress Set To End 2011 With Face-Off Over Payroll Tax
After spending the year lurching from one moment of brinkmanship to the next and watching their popularity plummet, members of Congress are poised to close out 2011 with one last showdown — over whether to extend a payroll tax break for 160 million U.S. workers (Mascaro, 12/11).
Reuters: Tax Fight Heads Toward Expected Deal: Aides
Democratic and Republican lawmakers skirmished on Friday over plans to extend a payroll tax cut seen as crucial to a fragile U.S. economic recovery, but aides predicted a last-minute deal. ... Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said the Republican bill also would weaken Obama's landmark healthcare reform law by undermining tax credits and subsidies designed to make health insurance affordable (Ferraro and Rampton, 12/10).
CNN: Senate GOP Leader Predicts A Payroll Tax Deal
Congress will agree to extend the payroll tax cut before it expires at the end of the year, two leading conservative Senate Republicans said Sunday. … As a way to garner support from reluctant conservative Republicans, who voiced concerns about the impact of the payroll tax cut on Social Security, GOP leaders insisted on keeping the provision aimed at moving toward approving the pipeline project within 60 days. To pay for the bill, GOP leaders use a series of spending cuts, including freezing pay for federal employees and members of Congress, eliminating a child tax credit for those in the U.S. illegally, and increasing Medicare premiums for those who earn more than $80,000 annually (Cohen, 12/11) .