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Pelosi: Medicare deal is coming

Pelosi: Medicare deal is coming
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Congressional leaders are moving ever closer to a permanent "doc-fix," Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Wednesday.

The House minority leader, who is involved in bipartisan talks with Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE (R-Ohio) over how to stabilize Medicare physician payments, said the timeline is unclear, but an agreement is all but certain.

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"I don't know when the announcement will be, but we are proceeding in a positive way. It is an engine that is going to leave the station, and hence every idea that couldn't find an engine before wants to be on it," Pelosi said during a news briefing in the Capitol.

"So we're trying to be respectful of the requests of colleagues, but I think we will have bipartisan agreement, and it will be a good agreement. I don't know the timetable."

At issue is the decades-old sustainable growth rate, or SGR – a formula that dictates federal payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. The formula was designed to rein in Medicare costs for the sake of the program's long-term financial health, but the doctors lobby says the formula yields cuts so steep that physicians simply can't afford to treat seniors under the program.

In response, Congress has perennially stepped in to scrap the SGR-based cuts with short-term funding bills. The enormous cost of a long-term solution, however, has prevented lawmakers from enacting a permanent fix.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE and Pelosi are hoping to change that this year. The two have been in talks over a $210 billion proposal to stabilize doctor payments and eliminate the need for annual patches.

They're walking a delicate line, though, as conservatives are pushing back against the notion that not all the costs would be offset elsewhere in the budget, and liberals are balking at reports that certain Medicare benefits might be cut to balance the books.

Pelosi on Wednesday declined to discuss potential offsets.

"When we release it, you'll see," she said.