Critical Condition

Doctor Fix is DOA


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid all but conceded Wednesday that a Medicare physician pay “fix” faces defeat in a procedural vote.

The Senate is set to vote Wednesday afternoon on a 10-year, $247 billion bill that would repeal the current system of paying physicians under Medicare and thus avoid perennial shortfalls stemming from a complex formula for determining the payment rate. But Republicans and a handful of moderate Democrats have said that they will vote against a motion to proceed to the bill.

Without the needed 60 votes to proceed to the bill, it is effectively shelved. Mr. Reid (D., Nev.), alluded to that outcome Wednesday saying he expected the Senate will “pick this up again” after it considers a broader health-care measure.

Congress will still need to take action to avoid a 21% drop in physician payments under Medicare that is scheduled to take effect in January, and it appears that a shorter-term solution is in the works.