The latest from Washington

'Doc fix' stumbles in Senate

June 16, 2010
by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor
Moderate Democrats crossed the aisle to join Republicans today in shooting down a benefits package that would also freeze a 21 percent Medicare pay cut to physicians set to go in effect on Friday.

The $140 billion bill, which passed the House last month and would have extended expiring unemployment benefits and handed out $24 billion to desperate state governments, lost 45-52 in a test vote, well short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules.

The bill collapsed over concerns about the nation's massive, ballooning deficit. The legislation was expected to add around $80 billion to the country's already nearly $13 trillion debt.

"The American people have had enough Washington gone wild policies," Sen. Kit Bond (R-Miss.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

The cuts in Medicare payments to doctors were originally slated to go in effect June 1, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services twice delayed collecting payments to give Congress a chance to freeze or overturn the cuts.

Democrats are expected to introduce a slimmed down version of the bill, H.R. 4213, delaying the Medicare pay cuts for seven months, instead of until the end of 2011, the Associated Press reported.