GOP Says Medicare Vote to Fail on Suspension

Posted June 24, 2008 at 9:57am

House Republican leaders predicted failure of the Medicare physician payment bill, which is set for the suspension calendar today.

The GOP says the only reason the bill was placed on suspension, usually reserved for non-controversial items, was to give Democrats “cover” before heading home for the recess.

The bill would delay by 18 months a 10.6-percent Medicare physician pay cut set to kick in on July 1. The bill is similar to a measure that failed in the Senate and sparked a presidential veto threat.

“We’re feeling confident they’re not going to get the two-thirds they need to pass this under suspension,” said a senior House GOP aide.

“House Democrats are saying, ‘If this fails, we want to allow our Members to go home and say they voted for a doc payment fix,’” said the aide.

The GOP source said all parties know the Senate will ultimately have to reach a compromise in order for the bill to advance.

“This is really a Senate fight,” the aide said. “We’re not going to be the ones to do this. That’s why this is really a cover vote.”

Aides to House Democratic leaders maintained that the bill has plenty of support, including that of nine Senators who voted to end debate.

“It is a critically important bill with broad bipartisan support,” said Stacey Farnen Bernards, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “And it needs to be passed quickly because we are facing a July 1 deadline.”