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Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee on Saturday issued a joint statement saying the emerging deal in the House to avert cuts to doctors under Medicare currently does not pass their "test."
“Though we have not been part of negotiations in the House on the total package, we want to be clear that any legislation of this magnitude sent to the Senate must be balanced," the senators said. "Unfortunately, our current understanding of what the House is negotiating does not sufficiently pass that test."
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerGOP rushes to vote without knowing full impact of healthcare plan Dem senator to reintroduce ‘buy American’ legislation GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes MORE (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have been negotiating a deal for a long-term fix to automatic cuts to doctors under Medicare known as the Sustainable Growth Rate. Bipartisan committee leaders in the House released a "working summary" of a package on Friday afternoon.
While the Senate Finance Committee Democrats say they support the goal of ending the SGR, they raise concerns about other aspects of the package.
Senate Democrats had been pushing for a four-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of the deal, but the emerging package includes only a two-year extension.
Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, on Thursday raised concerns about an "abortion policy rider" in the package.
The working summary of the agreement also includes making wealthier seniors pay a higher percentage of premium costs to help pay for the package.
The Finance Committee Democrats raised all of these issues in the statement.
“Some of us are worried about the level of increased costs to beneficiaries who are already responsible for significant health expenses," they said. "Others are concerned about the potential impact on women’s health services. Some are concerned about the extent to which this legislation is not paid for, while others are troubled by the effects of additional provider cuts."
They also singled out CHIP funding for four years as key.
"While our concerns vary, we are united by the necessity of extending CHIP funding for four years," they said. "We understand that our colleagues in the House are contemplating a short-term funding extension of only two years."
Asked about the statement Saturday, a Pelosi spokesman referred The Hill to statements of support for the emerging package from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Families USA.
“Bipartisan House leaders should be congratulated for coming together on a bill that can now move forward," Families USA, a pro-ObamaCare health non-profit, said in a statement Friday pointing to the CHIP extension. "The health care of at least 8 million children hinges on this funding extension."
"Given that the likely alternative is another short-term patch that fails to fix the SGR and extends CHIP for only a very short time, if at all, the House should approve the compromise," the CBPP said in a statement Friday as well.
On Thursday, Pelosi's office also pushed back on concerns about the abortion provision and said it is language in the bill that applies the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from abortions, to community health centers.
A spokesman for Pelosi's office said the language is just continuing the status quo, and that an executive order and Health Department regulations already require Hyde language to be applied to health center funding.
The Finance Committee statement Saturday was issued by Wyden and Sens. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder Gorsuch hearings: A referendum on Originalism and corporate power MORE (D-N.Y.), Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowPerdue says he will advocate for agriculture spending RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight Five things to watch for in Supreme Court showdown MORE (D-Mich.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellSenators want more security funding for Jewish centers Senate passes bill ending Obama-era land rule Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump's revised travel order MORE (D-Wash.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonOvernight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs FCC chairman: Whether NY Times, CNN, NBC are 'fake news' is a ‘political debate’ Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal MORE (D-Fla.), Bob MenendezRobert MenendezSteve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE (D-N.J.), Tom CarperTom CarperOvernight Energy: Ethanol groups prep for fight over mandate Dems ask Pruitt to ‘correct the record’ on personal email use Senate Dems introduce bill to rescind Trump border wall, immigration order MORE (D-Del.), Ben CardinBen CardinSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Senate confirms Trump's pick for Israel ambassador Rand Paul roils the Senate with NATO blockade MORE (D-Md.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick Sanders to oppose Gorsuch's nomination MORE (D-Ohio), Michael BennetMichael BennetThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators introduce new Iran sanctions RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight MORE (D-Colo.), Bob CaseyBob CaseyThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Sanders to oppose Gorsuch's nomination MORE (D-Pa.) and Mark WarnerMark WarnerSenate intel panel has not seen Nunes surveillance documents: lawmakers Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel chair says surveillance collected on Trump transition team Dem senator: House Intel chairman may have revealed classified info MORE (D-Va.).
In the House, some Democrats have also raised concerns about the two-year CHIP extension and making wealthier seniors pay more, but there is also an openness among some to support the package anyway.
Some House conservatives have also objected to the budgetary effects, but others, including the leaders of the GOP Doctors Caucus, are supporting the package.
The Finance Committee Democrats say they understand that there will be compromise in any agreement.
But they said a four-year CHIP extension and a "balance of offsets" should be part of what is included in a compromise.
"Without it, there is no guarantee," they said.