Critical Condition

Senate Dems Don’t Have the Votes to Buy Off Docs?

Congress Daily (subscription-only link):

The Medicare physician payment fix before the Senate is facing two major hurdles today: The bill does not have the necessary 60 votes, and House Democratic leaders said they would not take up the Senate’s version even if it did pass.

“I don’t expect to pass the Senate bill as currently written,” House Majority Leader Hoyer said today. “I don’t have any objection to and would support a Senate bill that’s passed that deals with the [physician payment fix] that includes statutory pay/go within its framework.”

The existing Medicare physician payment formula forces Congress to reverse annual cuts in physician reimbursement. Senate Democratic leaders decided last week to bring up a bill to repeal the formula, a move physician groups have repeatedly said must happen as part of the healthcare overhaul.

The rest of the article is behind a paywall, but it goes on to note that Senator Lieberman’s objections:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., today condemned the Stabenow measure. “Out of nowhere, we’re asked to provide $250 billion to cover services without any payment for it, increasing the debt by that amount,” he said. He added that if lawmakers pass a healthcare reform that includes a public option, the debt crisis will only worsen.