Harry Reid To GOP: Don’t Hold Doctors Hostage To Stop Obamacare

March 11, 2014 3:37 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) dismissed as not “serious” or “credible” a House Republican bill that would risk huge pay cuts for physicians if Obamacare’s individual mandate isn’t delayed.

“The credibility of what the House is doing to pay for this [Sustainable Growth Rate] fix is — it has no credibility,” he told reporters Tuesday in the Capitol. “Everyone knows they’ve voted … 50 times on repealing Obamacare or in some way attacking it. They’ve got to find something else. This is not credible what they’ve done.”

Starting on April 1, the so-called SGR formula will impose a 24 percent cut to physicians under Medicare unless Congress acts to avert it. House Republicans intend to vote on legislation this week that enacts a “doc fix” by delaying the requirement to purchase insurance by up to several years. GOP leadership aides argued that the bill puts Democrats in a difficult position because of the mandate’s unpopularity and the savings that come from delaying it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) championed the House GOP strategy on Tuesday, calling the individual mandate an “excellent pay-for” in a doc fix and “obviously the most unpopular part” of Obamacare.

Reid demurred when TPM followed up to ask how Senate Democrats plan to pay for a fix.

“We’re going to move forward in our own way,” he said, “in spite of [Republicans] not being serious about this.”

The Republican strategy is risky because they could face the ire of seniors who stand to lose their doctors if the Medicare reimbursement cuts aren’t avoided in time. But averting the cuts will be somewhat tricky because Reid needs some Republican votes to advance any short-term fix in the Senate.

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