Key Vote Helps Senate Move Forward on Bill To Avert Medicare Cuts
On Wednesday, Senate Democrats won a key vote on legislation that would extend unemployment benefits, including subsidies to help purchase COBRA coverage, and delay a scheduled cut to the Medicare physician payment formula, CQ Today reports.
With the support of Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Democratic senators succeeded in waiving a point of order against a substitute amendment to the extensions package (Lesniewski/Weyl , CQ Today, 4/14).
The substitute amendment -- offered by Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) -- would extend most of the bill's provisions through May, instead of April, as the package originally mandated. Also, the temporary extension of unemployment benefits would last until June 5, according to the amendment.
Republicans introduced the point of order in protest of the substitute amendment's cost, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated to be $18.1 billion. The GOP believes the cost should be offset under federal pay-as-you-go rules (Lesniewski/Weyl , CQ Today, 4/14).
Democrats Surmount Early Roadblock
Earlier on Wednesday, Democrats were unable to overcome the point of order because they were two votes shy of the 60 required to do so. However, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) returned from a funeral in Vermont to support moving ahead with the substitute amendment and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reversed his original position (Lesniewski/Weyl , CQ Today, 4/14).
Debate Nears End
Although Democrats are hoping that Republicans eventually will support the extensions package, Reid on Wednesday offered cloture motions to end debate on the legislation and the substitute amendment in the event that a bipartisan agreement cannot be reached, CQ Today reports.
According to CQ Today, passage of the bill is likely. The House Rules Committee on Wednesday voted to prepare the chamber for action on the bill by the end of the week should it pass the Senate (Lesniewski/Weyl , CQ Today, 4/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.