KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

House Ties ‘Doc Fix’ To A Delay In The Individual Mandate

The Senate is expected to refuse to accept the Republican plan to fix the way Medicare pays doctors and that could fray a bipartisan effort to find a long-term solution to the problem.

NPR: House Passes Payment Fix For Medicare Docs, But At What Cost?
Bipartisan support dissolved this week for compromise legislation that would have fixed a longstanding problem with the way Medicare pays physicians. Though the bill passed the House of Representatives Friday, it now contains a provision almost certain to invite veto unless a Senate version can quickly nudge the ultimate bill back toward compromise. Republican leaders in the House finally brought to a vote this week the legislation they'd unveiled in February (Rovner, 3/15).

The Wall Street Journal: House Approves Changes To Doctors' Medicare Payments
The House passed legislation on Friday to overhaul how physicians are paid for treating Medicare patients, in a largely partisan vote reflecting continued divisions over the 2010 health-care law. The bill, approved by a 238-181 vote, includes a bipartisan deal reached among members of key committees last month to increase the amount Medicare pays physicians by 0.5 percent each year for the next five years. The proposal was intended to end the perennial scramble to prevent large cuts to physicians' payments. No Republicans voted against the bill, and 12 Democrats supported it (Peterson, 3/14).

Politico: Obamacare Fight Breaks 'Doc Fix'
A once-bipartisan proposal to finally reform the deeply flawed way that Medicare pays doctors succumbed Friday to the partisan politics of Obamacare, particularly the unpopular individual mandate. The House voted 238-181 to replace the payment formula -- the complicated equation that for more than a decade has required annual "doc fixes" -- and to pay for it by delaying Obamacare's individual mandate for five years (Haberkorn, 3/14).

Reuters: House Obamacare Vote Sets Stage For New Campaign Attacks
The Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a bipartisan deal to spare doctors from a looming Medicare pay cut but included a provision to undermine Obamacare, which critics said was a non-starter in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The vote was 238-181, with most House Democrats refusing to swallow what they called an Obamacare "poison pill," a provision to delay for five years the tax penalty that most Americans must pay under President Barack Obama's health care law if they decline to sign up for insurance. ... Republicans acknowledged the combined measure may not have a bright Senate future but said they had to fund the doc fix to get it through the House. They said Senate Democrats should propose their own way to pay for the Medicare changes and then negotiate with the House (Cornwell, 3/14).

Fox News: House Votes To Delay Obamacare Mandate By A Decade, As Part Of Vital Medicare Bill
The House voted Friday to delay Obamacare's individual mandate to buy health insurance for a decade, as part of a bill that would spare doctors from drastic cuts to their Medicare payments at the end of the month. The vote was 238-181 with nearly all Democrats opposed. Now the bill goes to the Senate, where it's expected to die. The vote was the latest in dozens of GOP-led efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have blasted Republicans for attaching the Obamacare measure to the critical Medicare issue, known as the "doc fix" (3/14).

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