House approves 'doc fix' amendment to healthcare 'replace' resolution

The House has just overwhelmingly approved language in support of finding a permanent Medicare physician payment schedule that does not require periodic legislation in order to avoid steep cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors.

In a 428-1 vote, the House agreed to amend H.Res. 9 with the so-called "doc fix" language from Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah). H.Res. 9, which the House is expected to approve in the next few minutes, asks the committees to meet a series of objectives, such as lower costs, coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and preserving doctor choice. The Matheson amendment adds to those objectives a permanent Medicare reimbursement solution.

Only Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) voted against the amendment.

Speaking in defense of his amendment, Matheson said the current reimbursement system is "flawed," in part because it has forced Congress to repeatedly pass bills to avoid steep cuts in physician payments. He noted that last year alone, the House had five votes to avoid scheduled cuts.

At the same time, Matheson said he does not support Republican efforts to repeal last year's healthcare law.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said he supports the Matheson language, a sentiment that was clearly echoed in the final vote tally, as no Republicans voted against the Matheson amendment.

Updated at 12:17 p.m.