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Moderate Dems Blast Medicare Doc Fix Bill

It’s not looking good for Senate Democratic leaders hoping next week to pass a $245 billion proposal to give Medicare doctors pay raises over the next decade. That’s because there are a number of Democratic moderates lining up to oppose the proposal because it’s not paid for. The New York Times points out this morning that at least two moderates, Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.), are already vowing to vote against the bill.

“It’s not fiscally responsible,” Mr. Bayh said. “I could not vote for a bill that raises the deficit by $240 billion, not at a time when we are already hemorrhaging red ink. The physicians’ issue needs to be addressed, but not in a way that increases the deficit.”

Mr. Conrad, who is chairman of the Budget Committee, was furious at the possibility that Congress might adjust payment rates for doctors without offsetting the cost. “I don’t agree with just adding that amount to the debt,” Mr. Conrad said, adding, “I won’t vote for it.”

A cloture vote is scheduled for Monday evening. But with Republicans also vowing to oppose the bill if it isn’t offset, the Democrats might not want to bet the farm on this one.

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