By Molly K. Hooper - 11/19/09 06:11 PM EST
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.
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 Boozman (Ark.), Charles Boustany Jr. (La.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Paul Broun (Ga.), Bill Cassidy (La.), John Fleming (La.), Phil Gingrey (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 Cantor (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.