KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Facing Showdown On Payroll Tax, Medicare Bill

Politico: Tax Standoff Remains After Weekend Talks
A weekend of talks between the two top tax writers in Congress failed to bridge gaping partisan differences over the payroll tax cut package, increasing the odds of another Washington showdown ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) traded offers throughout the weekend in an attempt to cut a deal on extending the payroll tax holiday and jobless benefits for millions of Americans — along with avoiding a rate cut for physicians who treat Medicare patients (Sherman and Raju, 2/13).

The New York Times: Obama Faces Task of Selling Dueling Budget Ideas
In Congress, Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate over a package that would extend a temporary two-percentage-point cut in workers’ payroll taxes through this year, along with unemployment compensation for those out of work for more than six months and a delay in a scheduled deep reduction in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. “I do believe this will be extended,” Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on the ABC program “This Week.” The two sides are split over how to offset the cost of the package, but lawmakers who worked over the weekend reported making progress (Calmes, 2/12).

The Associated Press: Deadline Nears, Obama Wants Payroll Tax Cut Action
President Barack Obama is pressuring Congress to extend a payroll tax cut for the rest of the year as another deadline nears for Congress to act or see taxes go up for millions of working people. ... Lawmakers have made halting progress on legislation to extend the tax cut. The bill also would renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and prevent doctors from a 27 percent cut in their Medicare payments. But the plan costs $150 billion-plus and lawmakers will have to find a way to pay for it (2/11).

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