Pelosi, Boehner Rekindle Bipartisanship With $214
Billion Medicare Deal
4 hours ago
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) have teamed up on a bill, and it's a biggie. It would fix a massive
funding gap in Medicare, extend health care for poor children and make
long-term spending cuts.
The $214 billion package, called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization
Act of 2015, has a little something for everyone. Both parties are eager to
tackle its core piece, which would permanently replace the so-called Medicare
"doc fix" -- an annual vote to stave off cuts to the rates that
doctors get paid by Medicare -- with gradual raises to doctors. Democrats like
the bill's plan to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program for two years.
Republicans like its $70 billion offset, which stems from structural changes to
Medicare, like requiring high-income seniors to pay more and reducing spending
on Medigap plans.
Boehner and Pelosi have been quietly hashing out details for weeks. They've
spent the past couple of days building support in their caucuses, and on
Wednesday, the White House issued a formal statement backing it.
"As we speak, Congress is working to fix the Medicare physician payment
system. I've got my pen ready to sign a good, bipartisan bill, which would be
really exciting," President Barack Obama said at a health care event
earlier Wednesday. "I love when Congress passes bipartisan bills that I
The proposal marks a significant break for a Congress that's become so partisan
that passing a resolution naming a post office is a major accomplishment. It's
also a sign of the changing dynamics on Capitol Hill, where Democrats no longer
control the Senate: A bipartisan bill hatched in the House has presidential
support before many in the Senate have even read it.
The bill began its climb forward Wednesday afternoon, when the House Rules
Committee voted unanimously to tee it up for a Thursday floor vote. Lawmakers
seemed surprised, but relieved, that such a bill is actually moving.
"It's a rarity that I appear before the Rules Committee on the same
side as Speaker Boehner," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). "I'm very
happy to be here."
"This is something we all talk about, but we need a lot more of around
here, which is genuine bipartisanship. Genuine effort to reach a deal,"
said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). "I'm proud of our speaker. I'm proud of our
Even fiscal hawks have something to be happy about with the massive spending
bill. Despite increasing the deficit by $141 billion over 10 years, it costs
less than keeping the current system in place and it increasingly saves money
after 10 years, per the Congressional Budget Office.
The bill is likely to sail through the House late Thursday. But its fate is
less clear in the Senate, where Democrats are unhappy with some of its details
and unclear on whether they'll support it.
"I'm looking for a longer extension of CHIP and funding for community
health centers to be part of the mix," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
"I think it is important for us to bring some long-term stability to the
funding of Medicare … but doing it in a way that is not paid for and that
increases the burdens on beneficiaries without increasing benefits for
low-income or working poor, I think shows the wrong blend of values."
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is among several Democrats pushing for a four-year
extension of CHIP. Asked if he could support a two-year extension, he said,
"I'd prefer four to two. We'll see."
"I would like to see four years," said Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Other Democrats are unhappy that the bill subjects community health centers
to the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 provision that bars the use of federal funds for
abortions, except in cases of rape or incest. Some Democrats want the provision
removed altogether, but Pelosi maintains the language is routine and will
expire after two years. The House Pro-Choice Caucus gave the bill its blessing.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a vocal proponent of abortion rights and the
top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee,
"continues to talk to her colleagues about the best path forward,"
said her spokeswoman.
Most Democrats approached by The Huffington Post said they want to read the
200-page bill before making a decision. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
(D-Nev.) said as much when asked about it Tuesday.
"I personally am going to wait until we see it having passed the House
before we start speculating what we need to do with it, if anything," said
Senate GOP leaders have been mostly quiet on the bill, too. But key
Republicans seem ready to support it.
"I can't imagine another bipartisan opportunity like this coming around
again anytime soon," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate
Finance Committee. "Anyone who thinks we can continue to put this off, to
wait around for that perfect bill to come together, is fooling
Time is short. The current "doc fix" expires on March 31, which
means, barring congressional action, doctors will face a 20 percent payment cut
from Medicare. Add to the mix that Congress is heading into a two-week recess
on Friday, and the House isn't expected to vote out the bill until Thursday.
That leaves the Senate a tiny window to do something.
A top Senate Democratic aide speculated the Senate may either act late
Thursday -- possibly with a quick "unanimous consent" agreement, if
nobody opposes the House bill -- or punt the vote until after senators come
back. That would mean Congress blows the March 31 deadline, but the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services has in the past found ways to avoid immediate cuts to
two parties. Americans feel she is retrieving Zionists of Republican Party from
the ditch they dug for the Democrats and specially the President.
of congress is made to help each other when they get fixed in such bad
situation and there is no way out to
show to the nation after committing treachery with the nation. In addition, as
this what is now the situation of the ZIONIST representatives of the Republican
eyes how the bipartisan works. It should work smoothly even after inevitable punishment to the Speaker for his treachery with the nation together with Mitch
work smoothly in full swing harmoniously without any hitch then the ZIONIST of
the Republican party should immediately be booted out of US . The AIPAC ALONG
ITS MEMBERS PLAYING THE ROLE OF protectors (of the Israel supporters Zionists
in US working against the nation as US lawmakers from within the jurisdiction
of US )should at once be REMOVED FROM US and should be kicked out if not deported