Congress Plans to Use Another Band-Aid for ‘Doc Fix’

With a week and a half to go before Medicare doctors take an automatic pay cut, the Hill has resorted to its tried-and-true short-term patch.

A physician with stethoscope poses on October 19, 2009 in Manassas, Virginia. A new poll released October 20, 2009 found most Americans support one of the most controversial healthcare reform options being debated by lawmakers.The Washington Post-ABC News poll found 57 percent of Americans either strongly or somewhat support 'having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans.' Some 40 percent said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to the so-called public option, which President Barack Obama has said he favors but does not consider a non-negotiable component of any health care reform. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clara Ritger
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Clara Ritger
March 19, 2014, 11:34 a.m.

Con­gress in­tends to pass an­oth­er short-term “doc fix” in­stead of the long-term solu­tion phys­i­cians have been seek­ing for years, a House com­mit­tee spokes­man con­firmed Wed­nes­day.

Ne­go­ti­ations have stalled on a bi­par­tis­an bill that would re­peal and re­place the Medi­care for­mula that pays doc­tors be­cause lead­er­ship could not come to an agree­ment on how to pay for it.

Law­makers must act by March 31 to avert an auto­mat­ic cut to Medi­care phys­i­cians’ pay. With sev­en days to go after Con­gress re­turns from re­cess next week, aides are pre­par­ing a short-term patch with the hope that it leads to more bi­par­tis­an work on the per­man­ent solu­tion, the spokes­man said in an email.

Key stake­hold­ers and poli­cy­makers on both sides of the aisle had been hope­ful that they would fi­nally pass a per­man­ent fix to the sus­tain­able growth rate for­mula that in­sti­tutes auto­mat­ic cuts to the en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram. The Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice gave the deal an 11-year, $138 bil­lion price tag — one of the low­est es­tim­ates in re­cent at­tempts at a per­man­ent fix — and things were look­ing up.

But in Decem­ber, law­makers pushed the ne­go­ti­ations fur­ther down the road in a last-minute budget agree­ment, and now the elec­tion year has both parties stand­ing firm on how they feel the gov­ern­ment should pay for the pro­gram.

Re­pub­lic­ans even tied a delay of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s in­di­vidu­al man­date to the bill as a pay-for, ar­guing that the Demo­crats had pro­posed no oth­er al­tern­at­ives. While that ver­sion of the bill passed the House last week, it’s go­ing nowhere in the Sen­ate, and it even got a White House prom­ise to veto.

The news of an­oth­er short-term patch will come as a blow to ad­voc­ates of a per­man­ent SGR fix. The Amer­ic­an Med­ic­al As­so­ci­ation, which rep­res­ents doc­tors, held a con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton earli­er this month to lobby the Hill to get it done, meet­ing with lead­er­ship in both houses about their pro­gress on the is­sue.

“Con­tinu­ing the cycle of kick­ing the can down the road through tem­por­ary patches in the months ahead simply wastes more tax­pay­er money to pre­serve a bad policy of Con­gress’s own mak­ing,” said AMA Pres­id­ent Ar­d­is Dee Hov­en in a state­ment after the sham vote on the in­di­vidu­al man­date delay.

In all, Con­gress has spent up­ward of $150 bil­lion since 2003 on 15 “doc fixes.”

What We're Following See More »
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
ANTI-MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Trump Chooses Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr CEO as Labor Sec
17 hours ago
BREAKING
BUCKING THE BOSS?
Trump Cabinet Full of TPP Supporters
17 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."

Source:
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login