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 Nichols Boozman13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Overnight Defense: Top general defends Afghan war progress | VA shuffles leadership | Pacific Command gets new leader, name | Pentagon sued over HIV policy Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill MORE (Ark.), Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyLobbying world Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership MORE Jr. (La.), Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessTrump signs 'right to try' drug bill House approves 'right to try,' sends bill to Trump's desk Overnight Health Care: New allegations against VA nominee | Dems worry House moving too fast on opioid bills | HHS chief back in DC | FDA reexamines safety of controversial Parkinson's drug MORE (Texas), Paul BrounPaul Collins 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 Calvin FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (La.), Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip Gingrey2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins 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 Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement 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.