Democrats push back on doctors' lobby over possible Medicare payment cuts

Under the Democrats’ proposal, doctors facing the 21 percent cut this month would instead see a 2.2 percent update through 2010 and an additional 1 percent update for 2011. The provision is a part of the tax extenders bill Democrats are considering this week.

At issue is not the policy itself — which both parties support — but whether the new costs, estimated at $23 billion, should be offset elsewhere in the budget. The Democrats’ proposal would rely on deficit spending to cover the tab, while Republicans are insisting that the new expense be paid for.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) on Tuesday called for an even longer “doc fix,” one delaying the cut through 2013. But budget hawks are sure to balk. The 10-year cost for the broader fix is $65 billion.

This post was updated from its original version at 5:47 p.m.