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Stabenow Rejects Demands for ‘Doc Fix’ Pay-Fors

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on Tuesday rejected bipartisan demands that her legislation extending Medicare payments to doctors include provisions to offset its massive $245 billion price tag, arguing a one-year pay-for in the larger health care bill is sufficient.

“We’re not moving forward from the basis of offsets,— Stabenow said, accusing Republicans of using the issue to try to scuttle the broader health care reform effort.

“There’s a big fight going on, and people are looking for barbs to throw at each other. … In the past I’ve been on bipartisan [Medicare payment] bills over and over again with people who are now going to be on the floor saying this is terrible,— Stabenow added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed to advance the Medicare payment extension as a stand-alone measure last week, a move that helped reduce the overall costs of the broader health care reform bill.

But Reid ultimately had to scrap his plan to take up the bill on Monday thanks to bipartisan opposition, and now several efforts are under way to find ways to pay for it.

Meanwhile, Dr. J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, declined to endorse Democrats’ broader health care reform efforts. His position comes in the face of a report in the Hill newspaper that Reid had offered up the Medicare fix in exchange for support of the health care overhaul by nearly a dozen doctor groups. “We haven’t seen the Senate bill. … Once we get something out there we’ll be able to answer that,— Rohack said Tuesday.