The House’s top two leaders are on the verge of securing a sweeping deal to permanently fix a gaping hole in Medicare that has haunted Congress for more than a decade while also securing significant long-term savings in the program.And shockingly, it has broad support among Democrats and Republicans, including even some hardline conservatives who have spent years thwarting bipartisan agreements.House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are aiming to finalize the deal this week and put it to a vote next week, leadership sources said. There’s always a possibility of it imploding, but if the plan passes and is signed into law, it would be the most important piece of health care legislation since Obamacare, and a huge achievement for a Congress that has so far been marked by unusual dysfunction.The deal would end the perennial Medicare “doc fix” problem by replacing the widely-maligned formula for reimbursing physicians, which currently imposes steep annual cuts that Congress has regularly overridden since 2002. It’s a huge headache for lawmakers as powerful health industry groups have been clamoring for a permanent fix for years. The cost of repealing the existing “Sustainable Growth Rate” payment formula is $170 billion over a decade.The plan would also extend for two years the Children’s Health Care Program, which helps insure families with children, and runs out of funding on October 1, lawmakers and aides said.
March 19, 2015 at 9:15 AM EDT