Dems, GOP Fight Over Medicare Rates

Republicans say foes are trying to hide true cost
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2009 12:33 PM CDT
White House Health Care czar Nancy Ann DeParle, accompanied by Harry Reid and Christopher Dodd, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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(Newser) – A new health care-related bill is in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, as senators battle over a Democratic proposal to freeze Medicare rates for doctors at the current rate for 10 years—overriding a 21% cut scheduled for January. Democrats say the bill, which is backed by lobbyists from the AMA and AARP, will ensure doctors keep seeing seniors.

But Republicans say the measure should have been included in the broader health care reform bill, and that Democrats spun it off in order to hide its cost—$247 billion over 10 years. In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal calls it the “fiscal deception of the century.” The Medicare cuts are supposed to kick in when health care costs rise too fast. But every year Congress intervenes to prevent the cuts. (Read more Medicare stories.)