Meanwhile, Senate leaders confirmed that they don't have enough Democrats onboard to pass Sen. Debbie Stabenow's bill, which effectively erases the flawed sustainable growth-rate, or SGR, formula.
“It's been frustrating because we don't have the 60 votes,” Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the Democrats' second highest-ranking member, told reporters. “We were told at the outset that this was going to be bipartisan.”
Republicans and many Democrats argue that the $250 billion it costs to remove the SGR formula need to be offset by savings from other areas. The desire to scrap the formula—shared by both parties—has opened the door to a number of amendments that could ultimately reshape the effort.
For instance, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are expected to offer counter legislation that would give doctors a two-year, 0.5% increase in pay. One possible offset could be savings that government auditors say could be reaped from medical malpractice reforms.
“Things have got to be paid for,” Conrad said. “That's my position.”
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