House Republicans expect strong vote against 'doc fix'

House Republicans anticipate a strong vote against the so-called "doc fix" bill on Thursday, when the House considers the measure that would increase doctor reimbursements provided under Medicare.

After calling an early-morning, closed-door meeting for GOP lawmakers to discuss the issue, leaders emerged confident that their conference would vote "no" on the doc fix.

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According to lawmakers at the conference meeting, a number of members in the GOP Doctors Caucus are struggling with whether to vote for the measure that would prevent a 21 percent decrease in physician reimbursement rates from going into effect in January.

At least one doctor, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), said he’s undecided.

As a deficit hawk, he told The Hill that it was difficult to fathom because the Democratic bill is not paid for and “goes against everything (he) stands for.”

But Roe, a longtime OB/GYN, says that without the temporary fix his former colleagues won’t be able to see as many patients.

This “is the hardest vote” that Roe, a freshman, has had to take in Congress, he said.

Not all members of the GOP Doctors Caucus — which includes Reps. John BoozmanJohn BoozmanDeficits could stand in the way of Trump's agenda The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate SENATE: Republicans defy odds to keep majority MORE (Ark.), Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyLouisiana dishes last serving of political gumbo We can't let tax extenders obstruct comprehensive reform GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE Jr. (La.), Michael BurgessMichael BurgessThis week: Pelosi's test Trump calls for special session of Congress to repeal ObamaCare GOP: Obama ‘in denial’ about healthcare law failures MORE (Texas), Paul BrounPaul BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (Ga.), Bill Cassidy (La.), John FlemingJohn FlemingGOP seeks to make it 52 Louisiana Senate race heads to runoff Senate TV spending crosses 0M mark MORE (La.), Phil GingreyPhil GingreyBeating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street Former Rep. Gingrey lands on K Street MORE (Ga.), John Linder (Ga.), Tim Murphy (Pa.), Ron Paul (Texas), Tom Price (Ga.), Roe and Mike Simpson (Idaho) — are torn, however.

Gingrey announced that the bill would ultimately harm physicians; he predicted a “solid no” vote from members of his party.

Broun told reporters earlier in the day that all members in the conference would vote against the measure. GOP Whip Eric CantorEric CantorChamber of Commerce overhauls lobbying operation Laura Ingraham under consideration for White House press secretary VA Dems jockey for Kaine's seat MORE (Va.) had to walk back that statement since Broun is not an official whip. Cantor said that he has a “strong sense” that his colleagues oppose the bill, but would not reveal a whip count.

Cantor cited an alternative that his party intends to offer during the debate Thursday afternoon: a version that would provide doctors with a 2 percent Medicare payment rate increase in each of the next four years. It would offset the costs of the increase by implementing tort reform and enacting health insurance simplification policies, according to a release produced by Cantor’s office.