Democrats, Republicans Stand Their Ground On ‘Doc Fix’ Positions
Congressional Democratic leaders pan the idea of a stand-alone bill for Medicare physician payments, while Republicans continue to insist on a full-year fix.
Modern Healthcare: Democrats Press Boehner To Set Vote On Tax Cut, SGR
Congressional Democrats on Wednesday would not say if the House or Senate has plans to introduce a stand-alone bill to avert a looming 27.4 percent Medicare physician payment cut if federal lawmakers can't agree on a payroll tax cut bill that includes a two-month freeze on payments to the nation's doctors. During a call with reporters, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) repeated a message that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a letter Wednesday: that the Ohio Republican should reconvene House members and hold an up-or-down vote on the Senate-amended version of a House payroll tax cut bill that the Senate passed with strong support last weekend (Zigmond, 12/21).
The Hill: Dem Leaders Rebuff Stand-Alone Fix To Avert Pay Cut To Doctors
Democratic leaders said Wednesday they are not interested in approving a stand-alone bill to spare doctors from a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments. Instead, they urged House Republicans to pass a Senate compromise bill extending the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and the "doc fix" for two months. ... Republicans have not been enthusiastic this year about extending the payroll tax cut for 2012, a centerpiece of President Obama’s agenda. Many GOP lawmakers are skeptical it would have much impact on the economy and worry it could hurt Social Security solvency (Bolton, 12/21).
Politico Pro: Message War, But No Progress, On 'Doc Fix'
It was an unusual scene even for Washington: Eight House Republicans and their two top leaders gathered around a long conference table in a near-empty Capitol, waiting for the start of negotiations that likely won't come. Three of the eight belong to the House GOP Doctors Caucus and the "doc fix" was on their minds Wednesday morning, although it's increasingly unlikely that it will land on the legislative calendar before January (DoBias and Haberkorn, 12/21).
CQ HealthBeat: Lawmakers Aren't Eager To Resort To Retroactive 'Doc Fix' Again
With a congressional standoff stalling efforts to stop a scheduled cut to Medicare payments to physicians, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) bought lawmakers some time to work out a retroactive measure if necessary. But several lawmakers and provider groups said Tuesday that relying on that temporary safety net would cause unacceptable interruptions and uncertainty for physicians (Ethridge, 12/21).
Politico Pro: Physicians Weary Of Congress
Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress claim to be trying to save Medicare, but regular showdowns over physician payments may be leading Americans to conclude that the program mostly needs saving from members of Congress. And a growing sense of congressional incompetence may be leading the doctors who will first feel the cuts to become more disengaged in the process than ever (Feder, 12/21).
CNN Money: Medicare Doctors Fed Up With Washington
The payroll tax impasse in Congress has put Medicare doctors on edge over the likelihood that their pay could be slashed 27.4% in two weeks time. Under current law, health care providers to the nation's 45 million Medicare beneficiaries -- including physicians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and podiatrists -- face reduced government reimbursement. But the payroll tax cut bill also includes a "patch" that would have prevented the Medicare payment cuts from occurring in the New Year (Kavilanz, 12/21).