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Will Congress pass a "Doc Fix" ,,,,,,
Politicians of both parties outdo each other vying for the approval of seniors, but their inability to compromise on the federal budget has put Medicare in the crosshairs again.
Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors face a 27 percent cut in their fees for treating Medicare patients. That could undermine health care for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.
The cuts are the consequence of a 1990s budget law that failed to control spending but never got repealed. Congress passes a temporary fix each time, only to grow the size of reductions required next time around. The supercommittee's breakdown leaves the so-called "doc fix" unresolved with time running out.
The main options now before Congress include a one-year or two-year fix.
The problem is the cost. Congress used to add it to the federal deficit, but lawmakers can't get away with that in these fiscally austere times. Instead, they must find about $22 billion in offsets for the one-year option, $35 billion for the two-year version. A permanent fix would cost about $300 billion over 10 years, making it much less likely.
"It's going to be a real challenge, and there's not a lot of time to play ping-pong," said the lobbyist. "It's entirely possible given past performance that Congress misses the deadline.".
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