Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) added his name last week to a growing list of legislators who are giving a lukewarm response to the idea of a Medicare rescue commission.
Daschle told reporters that Congress, not a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission, should deal with Medicare reform.
While he said he wouldn't oppose a commission such as the one proposed by President Clinton, Daschle said such a plan would unnecessarily delay action.
White House officials said they are likely to propose a series of short-term spending reductions that would extend the life of the Medicare Part A trust fund from 2001 to 2006 and form a commission to look at long-term solutions for financing Medicare.
Presidential aides are debating whether to reintroduce the Medicare reform package from the administration's fiscal 1997 budget plan or to significantly revamp the proposal. The administration's 1997 budget, which died when talks with Republicans broke down, would have reduced projected Medicare spending by $118 billion over six years.
Daschle's resistance to a Medicare commission puts him in step with his Republican counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who also has said he would prefer congressional action to a commission.
Some provider groups, including the American Hospital Association, have expressed concern about a two-phased approach to solving Medicare's financial woes.
Daschle said Congress should set a July 1 deadline to produce a package of reforms and then take the month of July to hash out a Medicare reform plan.
Daschle also called for passage of a balanced-budget plan but questioned the need for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.