House Averts Cuts to Doctors Who See Seniors

Doctors who care for senior citizens on Medicare won’t face a 21 percent pay cut thanks to a House vote Thursday night.

The House of Representatives approved a six-month patch of the so-called “doc fix.” Had the House not acted, doctors would have faced a reduction in their government-backed reimbursement rates.

The most recent extension expired June 18. This comes as shocking reversal for House Democrats. As early as Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-C) blasted the Senate for its fix to the problem. Pelosi decried the measure as “poorly written” and “inadequate.”

The speaker wanted to see the Senate approve a longer fix and marry the legislation to a broader jobs package. But gridlock in the Senate forced Pelosi to reverse course. She advocated action on broader jobs package in the Senate rather than passing a stand-alone bill. But in the end, the speaker had to choose between taking the Senate’s bill or cutting reimbursements to physicians.

“We had hoped to send (the fix) back to them with unemployment insurance,” Pelosi said, “But it’s clear that at this time they can’t pass that.”

Republicans say that the broader jobs legislation, known as the “extenders” bill, would merely make a record budget deficit even larger.

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami chided Senate Republicans for holding up the jobs end of the measure.

"We want to see what the Senate can do. Maybe there will be a miracle on the Senate floor. Like the miracle on the pitch yesterday,” said Elshami, in a reference to the last-minute American victory in the World Cup Against Algeria Wednesday.

The stand-alone doc fix bill costs considerably less than the overall jobs package, at just $6.4 billion and is fully offset.

The vote was 416 to 1. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) was the sole nay vote.