Medicare Doctor Payment "Fix" Could Slip, Jeopardizing AMA Support For Health Reform

The American Medical Association backed the House Democrats' reform bill earlier this month, at a time when it appeared likely lawmakers would move to permanently end looming cuts to doctors' Medicare payments that Congress defers from year to year, Politico reports. While the so-called "doc fix" was not in the final health bill, "[t]he House is expected to pass a bill later this week to permanently plug [the] shortfall .... But prospects for the bill look dim, since the Senate blocked consideration of a similar measure late last month, and House leaders stripped the proposal from their broader health reform package."

"The conflicting maneuvers suggest that, rather than a permanent solution, the best the doctors might get is yet another one- or two-year fix, which could threaten their support for health care reform," according to Politico. In the earlier Senate vote, the Democratic leadership fell 12 votes shy of the 60 needed to pass a bill. Fiscal conservatives have opposed it, saying it would add $247 billion to the deficit over a decade (O'Connor, 11/17).

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