Senate Rejects Medicare Pay FixOctober 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
The Senate today voted down a procedural motion to move forward with the Medicare Physicians Fairness Act of 2009. The bill would have undone a physician payment formula for Medicare that was created by Congress in 1997 and has recommended pay cuts for seven years in a row. In the past six years Congress has overridden the formula and blocked the cuts from taking effect. Since Congress hasn’t been willing to let the cuts go through, the amount of the cuts recommended by the formula increase each year. This year, for example, doctors that accept Medicare patients are slated to face a 21.5 percent cut.
The vote count was 47-53 — 13 votes short of the 60 votes that were needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster. I’ll update with the full roll call details as soon as we have them.
Republicans opposed the bill because it’s costs were not offset. “Americans are increasingly alarmed by the expansion of our national debt and this spending binge that we’re putting on the national credit card,” Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] said during the debate. But Democrats argue that the Republicans’ opposition is political. Roll Call:
“Republicans believe that they can derail health care reform by defeating the doc fix,” Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said. “That’s what this is all about. Another way to slow down the process and stop health care reform.”