First Edition: June 18, 2010
Today's headlines focus on the Senate's continuing jobs bill impasse, but a 'doc fix' deal may be emerging.
Baucus, Grassley Reach Agreement On Doc Fix
Posted at 11:24 PM: The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Finance Committee reached agreement [Thursday] evening on a six-month Medicare "doc fix" that could open the way for the tax extenders bill to pass as early as Friday, a source tells The Hill. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) hope to pass the tax extenders bill by unanimous consent (The Hill's Healthwatch Blog).
House Dem Vs. Senate Dem Battle Heats Up As Extender Bill Limps Along
Frustration among House Democrats with their Senate counterparts is boiling over. "They live in a delusional world - they lost their minds," said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). His chief gripe is with the Senate's decision to reduce the "doc fix," a term that describes delaying a cut in Medicare payments to physicians. The House on May 28 passed a fix through 2011 at a cost of $22.9 billion over 10 years. The Senate shaved approximately $16 billion from the provision by shortening the relief to six months, which ensures that Congress will debate the extension of the Medicare reimbursement system before the new year (The Hill).
Jobs Bill Blocked In Senate
The Senate effectively rejected a slimmed-down package of jobless benefits and state aid late Thursday, rebuffing President Obama's call for urgent action to bolster the economic recovery (The Washington Post).
Senate Stalemate Persists On Spending Bill
The impasse has significant practical consequences. Without action, a 21 percent cut in doctor fees paid by Medicare would take effect, raising the prospect that some physicians might refuse Medicare patients. Tens of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits would not be eligible for more (The New York Times).
Jobless Aid, Tax Bill Hits Senate Roadblock Again
In another stinging setback for President Barack Obama and Democrats controlling Congress, the Senate on Thursday rejected long-sought legislation to provide stimulus spending and a reprieve for doctors about to get hit with a big cut in their Medicare payments (The Associated Press).
Spending Measure Snagged By GOP Filibuster
A sprawling piece of legislation needed to extend unemployment benefits ran into serious trouble Thursday in the Senate, after Democratic leaders failed to break a Republican filibuster based largely on concern over the federal deficit. Democrats vowed to continue working on the bill. But chances are growing that the measure could be pulled from the floor, perhaps until July, to ease tensions and give senators time to find common ground (The Wall Street Journal).
Budget Crisis Freezes Senate
Washington's summer budget crisis got only hotter Thursday with missed deadlines and both parties talking past one another on how to restore jobless benefits for a swelling tide of workers and avoid major disruptions in Medicare payments to physicians (Politico).
Feds Ask Judge To Drop Health Care Overhaul Suit
The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by 20 states challenging President Barack Obama's health care overhaul (The Associated Press).
U.S. Fights Challenge to Health Law
The federal government formally responded to the most serious legal challenge to the health-care overhaul, invoking its powers under the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce and impose taxes (The Wall Street Journal).
Jim Matheson Faces Anger For Health Vote
Remember that health care reform vote a few months back? Utah progressives do. And it's pushed some of them over the edge, which may lead them to abandon five-term Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) in the June 22 primary (Politico).
Obama To Order Federal Agencies To Compile 'Do Not Pay List'
The administration also will announce plans on Friday for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to use an online fraud-detection program developed by federal watchdogs who are tracking the economic stimulus program. CMS made $65 billion in erroneous payments in fiscal year 2009, and officials expect the tool will help the agency keep closer tabs on medical providers by conducting deeper background checks (The Washington Post).
Ground Zero Health Deal Faces Hurdles
After years of frustration, workers sickened in the recovery and cleanup efforts after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are on the verge of getting paid for their illnesses. Yet the proposed legal settlement of up to $712 million also would pay money to thousands of people who aren't sick at all (The Wall Street Journal).
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