A long-term fix for Medicare’s physicians’ pay problem got the House’s stamp of approval Friday, but the bill is going nowhere because it also delays Obamacare’s individual mandate.
The House passed, 238-181, the measure that would repeal and replace the flawed SGR formula that institutes annual payment cuts to doctors who provide services to Medicare beneficiaries.
But the cost of the bill is offset by a five-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and the White House has already issued a statement that the president would veto it if it arrives on his desk.
Without the individual mandate, fewer Americans would sign up for Medicaid or private insurance on the health law’s exchanges. In total, 13 million people would forgo insurance, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, resulting in lower federal expenditures on the Medicaid program and the premium tax credits designed to make private coverage more affordable.
“There is no reason for the House Republicans to put the doctor community through this charade again,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., in an impassioned floor speech. “We had, in fact, been making remarkable progress on a bipartisan solution. Instead the Republicans have hijacked those negotiations and made it so bad that even the American Medical Association rejects it.”
In a letter to Congress earlier this week, the powerful doctors’ lobby expressed “profound disappointment that a strong bipartisan, bicameral effort to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) has become a victim of partisan approaches to resolve budgetary issues.”
Friday’s vote comes after negotiations on a realistic pay-for have stalled movement on the bill. Republicans argued on the floor that Democrats had no other suggestion about how to pay for the fix.
“We have at the end of the month a cliff where our providers under Medicare are looking at a 24 percent cut,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. “The other side is engaging in political theatre. The other side “¦ believes that we should continue to do what we do in Washington and pass policy without paying for it.”
Congress has until March 31 to come to an agreement — or pass another temporary “doc fix” — to avert an automatic cut to doctors’ pay.
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When it comes to name-calling among America's upper echelon of politicians, there may be perhaps no greater spat than the one currently going on between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump. While receiving an award Tuesday night, she continued a months-long feud with the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who probably doesn't know three things about Dodd-Frank, she said he "will NEVER be president of the United States," according to her prepared remarks."We don't know what Trump pays in taxes because he is the first presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to disclose his tax returns. Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out that he’s worth a lot less money than he claims." It follows a long-line of Warren attacks over Twitter, Facebook and in interviews that Trump is a sexist, racist, narcissistic loser. In reply, Trump has called Warren either "goofy" or "the Indian"—referring to her controversial assertion of her Native American heritage.
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.