Extending Payroll Tax Cut Tops Congressional To-Do List
A quick deal on this legislative challenge could result in a short-term Medicare "doc fix" and raises red flags for hospitals, which fear reimbursements could be cut.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Congress Revisiting Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits As Round 2 Of Bruising Battle Begins
With television lights glaring, 20 lawmakers will gather next week to revisit the fight that consumed Congress before Christmas over renewing a Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Little real work will be done, but the meeting will mark the formal start of an effort to untangle a dispute that both parties want to resolve, though for different reasons. Following is a look at the path Round 2 could take, based on interviews with participants on both sides (1/18).
The New York Times: Parties Confident Of Extending Payroll Tax Cut
Republicans, eager to avoid another bruising fight, have signaled that they will drop the most controversial provisions in the version of the yearlong extension passed by the House earlier in December. … Democrats have retreated from their effort to raise taxes on incomes over $1 million to finance the extension of a tax cut for most working Americans, stave off a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors and extend expiring unemployment benefits. But they do not seem ready to give much more ground (Weisman, 1/17).
Politico Pro: Quick Tax Deal May Mean Short-Term Doc Fix
If Republicans really do want to get a long-term payroll tax agreement out of the way as quickly as possible, the result is likely to be a "doc fix" that only lasts through the end of this year — not the two-year fix House Republicans originally wanted. That's the scenario that seems to be emerging on the Hill, where Republicans are eager to reach a quick payroll tax deal to minimize the embarrassment of the aborted House showdown in December, and Democrats, sensing the upper hand, want to notch an early election year win (DoBias, 1/18).
The Hill: Hospital Trade Group Issues Alert On Looming Cuts
The American Hospital Association issued an action alert to its members Tuesday asking them to urge their lawmakers to avoid looming cuts as the House reconvenes this week. Congress punted last month on a long-term extension of the payroll tax cut and the Medicare "doc fix," requiring action by the end of next month. Postponing scheduled Medicare payment cuts beyond that date would cost about $30 billion per year of delay, and hospitals are worried that Congress could try to get the money from them (Pecquet, 1/17).