It looked like the fix was in. The “Doc Fix,” that is. As the Heritage Foundation has been reporting, the White House and Dem leaders scurried today to try and pass a $247 billion payoff to doctors groups as an enticement to support Obamacare.
Surprise: The fix failed. The cloture voted on S. 1776 failed by 47-53. Here’s the roll call vote:
And now look who’s whining. Harry Reid blames the AMA:
Reid brought the $247 billion bill to the Senate floor this week as part of a deal to secure the support of doctors groups such as the AMA for passage of a separate, broader healthcare reform bill later this year. But the strategy has backfired.
Reid knew that he needed Republican votes because several centrist Democrats made it clear to him before this week that they would not vote for the measure if its cost was not offset. Reid though he could count on a few Republican crossover votes…
…Reid told reporters on Wednesday that he was led to believe that more than two dozen Republicans would vote for the bill, though he did not mention the AMA by name.
“I was told by various people that we would have 27 Republican votes, which was pretty reasonable to assume since one of the co-sponsors of this legislation was [Sen.] Jon Kyl [Ariz.], the assistant Republican leader.
“I was stunned when I was told by his cosponsor Sen. Stabenow after we introduced this legislation that [Kyl] couldn’t support it. Even though he is a cosponsor he couldn’t support the legislation,” Reid said, making reference to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the lead sponsor of the 10-year doctor payment fix.
Kyl did not cosponsor the 10-year fix. Last year and in 2005 he cosponsored a measure that would have implemented a two-year freeze on the cuts to Medicare payments to doctors.
An aide to Kyl said that those measures would have indexed future payments to inflation and rising healthcare costs. The aide said that Stabenow’s bill would freeze payment levels and make no provision for rising costs.
Another factor is that the nation’s fiscal picture is much different than it was last year. The Obama administration recently estimated the federal deficit at $1.4 trillion.
The AMA pushes back against Reid here.
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