Senate Democrats threaten to oppose deal on Medicare fees

Nancy Pelos
Nancy Pelos (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Senate Democratic aides say Democratic senators will oppose a potential bipartisan deal from the House to prevent cuts in physicians’ Medicare payments if it doesn’t finance a children’s health program for four years.

The aides spoke Sunday as House bargainers try to stave off a 21 percent reduction in doctors’ Medicare reimbursements scheduled for April 1. Negotiators want to craft an agreement annulling a 1997 formula that annually threatens deep cuts in those payments.

Lobbyists have said that as part of that package, bargainers have discussed providing money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two more years, which would cost around $5 billion. They say the overall measure would cost roughly $200 billion over 10 years.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on private negotiations.

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