Thursday, March 27, 2014

Congress Rams Medicare 'Doc Fix' Bill Through Using Voice Vote in Near-Empty Congress

House approves 'doc fix' in voice vote     


The House on Thursday approved legislation by voice vote that prevents a pending cut to Medicare physician rates for another year.
The move, which dodges a 24 percent cut to those rates set to hit on April 1 without congressional action, came after a lengthy delay in which the bill's passage appeared in doubt.
House passage is essentially a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the Senate, which now must decide how to react with just days left before the cut takes effect.
House Republicans called the bill up under a suspension of House rules, which meant a two-thirds majority was needed for passage, and that 50 to 60 Democrats had to support it. That led to worries all day that the House would not be able to pass it due to Democratic opposition. 
Republicans considered pulling the measure as serious questions were raised about whether enough Democrats were there to reach the two-thirds majority. But the voice vote appears to have been a way to avoid a potentially failed vote on a bill that both GOP and Democratic leaders said must pass

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The posturing by BOTH parties and the voice vote is a sham

GOP gripes about 'bull----' vote

Angry House conservatives denounced the Republican leadership for abruptly ramming through a fix to Medicare doctor payments on Thursday without a full roll call vote.
“Outrageous,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told The Hill after complaining about the maneuver to a colleague. “I think it’s outrageous.”
House Republican leaders had planned to bring up the “doc fix” under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, but after a series of closed-door meetings on Thursday morning, they determined they didn’t have the votes to meet that threshold and didn’t want to stay in session long enough to set up a simple majority vote.So with just a few members on the House floor before a scheduled vote on an unrelated Ukraine measure, Republicans brought up the Medicare bill by voice vote. When no one in the chamber objected, the measure passed.
“Bullshit,” said a visibly annoyed Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) as he emerged from the floor following the Ukraine vote. When Mulvaney was asked to comment about the upcoming GOP budget, he replied: “I can’t talk about the budget because I’m so pissed about the [doc fix].”

The measure is an annual delay to the sustainable growth rate formula that this time would prevent a 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement payments to doctors set to begin at month’s end. The change is broadly supported by Republicans and Democrats most years, but it drew opposition from the American Medical Association, which has pushed for a long-term solution to the problem instead of annual patches. House and Senate leaders have agreed on a resolution to repeal the formula, but they can’t agree on how to pay for the $180 billion cost over a decade, necessitating the stopgap measure.
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a member of the “Doctor’s Caucus” that opposed the bill, said he didn’t like the maneuver but did not object because, he said, the alternative of payment cuts to doctors was worse.
“This would affect millions of seniors across the country in a very negative way,” he said.
“I didn’t like the way we did that,” Fleming added. “They gave us a choice between something bad and something worse.”