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House GOP to Tie ‘Doc Fix’ to Individual Mandate Delay (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:33 p.m. | House Republicans will tie the “doc fix” to a delay of up to 10 years of the mandate in Democrats’ health care law that Americans purchase insurance, according to GOP aides.  

Leadership has been looking for a way forward on the legislation, but have yet to find a politically safe way to offset the $130 billion price tag for the 10-year “doc fix.”  

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., had been reticent about moving the bill given the price tag, and as an opening salvo in negotiations, he will put on the floor a bill that would offset the cost from savings found by delaying the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  

The House passed a bill earlier this week delaying the mandate for one year. It was their 50th vote to repeal or otherwise take apart President Barack Obama’s key domestic policy achievement.  

Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., said the bill will be a “road to nowhere” because the Senate will not agree to dismantle the signature law. “There’s been no effort by them to sit down and talk about the pay-fors,” Levin said of Republicans. “So instead they’re pretending, and that may be understandable, but it’s inexcusable.”  

The bill would shore up a formula that determines doctors’ payments when they treat Medicare patients. It expires at the end of the month, and the payments to the doctors would be drastically cut.  

The Congressional Budget Office found that a one-year delay of the individual mandate would save $9 billion over 10 years. GOP aides said that to cover most of the cost of the “doc fix,” the mandate will be delayed for as much as a full decade. (Aides earlier had said the bill would be delayed 10 years but the legislation continues to evolve.)  

During a weekly colloquy, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who was standing in for Cantor, was asked whether the policy would extract savings from a delay to the individual mandate.  

“The specifics of what the pay-fors are going to be are currently under discussion,” he said.  

The news comes the same day as the American Medical Association swarmed Capitol Hill with representatives. They have made a long-term fix to the formula a priority.  

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said this week that he also wants to push a long-term fix.

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