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House Passes Doc Fix and CHIP Bill in Rare Cross Aisle Effort

Photo by Tyler Daniels 

CHAVA: The House of Representatives voted yesterday to protect reimbursements made to Doctors who treat Medicare patients. An old provision had been set to cut payments to doctors by more than 20 percent. The bill passed by the House overhauls the healthcare system – and provided a rare show of bi-partisanship in a deeply divided house.

CAMILLE: …but now it’s got to clear the hurdle of the Senate and it only has two days to do so. As Tyler Daniels reports… the bipartisan spirit may not last.


Congress has until March 31 to prevent the cuts by passing what’s known as a fix. Just like it’s done before.

[Sherry Glied] like all the other fixes that have happened 17 times before will pass.

Sherry Glied was an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and she’s now the Dean at NYU’s School of Public Service. She says the fixes were necessary because of a formula congress introduced for Medicare reimbursement introduced in 1997. According to Glied…

[Glied] The way Medicare pays doctors is each service they provide has a certain number of points allocated.

Those points are plugged into a formula that determine a doctor’s reimbursement.

[Glied] The way the formula works is if Medicare spending goes up more then the formula anticipates – the conversion factor for the following year drops down.

If that were to happen doctors would be paid less – unless congress passes a fix. And that’s really what’s been happening over time. The bill that the House passed this week also extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Which would allow – 2 million kids around the country could to keep their health insurance. Texas Republican Representative Ted Poe was filling in for speaker of the house John Boehner, when reporting the results of the vote.

[Ted Poe] On this vote the Yays are 392 the Nays are 37. The bill is passed without objection.

More than 200 Republicans joined democrats, voting in favor of the bill. These are members of the same caucus that has voted more than 50 time to repeal Obamacare and hasn’t agreed with democrats on a piece of healthcare legislation since 2011.

Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seemed pleased that both parties reached across the aisle.

[Leader Pelosi] It was my honor to work with speaker Boehner on this issue, to do what we came to do. To legislate.

But despite Republican support in the House, some conservatives are unhappy with the resolution.

[Paul Winfree ] What they’re trying to do is to show that they can quote on quote, govern.

That’s Paul Winfree, a former Capitol Hill staffer who works at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He thinks that Republicans didn’t really have a choice but cooperate with democrats because these are extreme circumstances. Like the fiscal cliff, sequestration and government shutdown.

[Winfree ] And if you take that mechanism away, congress will not act.

The bill is in for a rough ride now that’s moved to the Senate. Some Republican senators have already expressed disapproval of its current form because of what Winfree and others say it could do to the budget.

[Winfree ] This bill, as passed would increase the deficit by 141 billion over 10 years

On the other side of the aisle, a few democrats are skeptical because the house version would extend restrictions on tax-payer funded abortions.

If the Senate doesn’t pass a bill this weekend, doctors will have to wait two weeks, while legislators are on recess, to find out what their Medicare checks will look like in the future.

Tyler Daniels Columbia Radio News.


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