Bipartisan support is building in Congress for a measure that would prevent cuts to Medicare to the cost of $174 billion.
According to The Hill
, the package being discussed would end the automatic cuts to doctors under Medicare which has been a function of the Sustainable Growth Rate.
Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, told The Hill that he believes the bill will pass the House in the spring but acknowledged that there could be some opposition from conservatives who do not want to see an increase in the deficit.
"Many of the party's fiscal conservatives say we should find a way to pay for all of it, but then again I don't think they understand, as we do as doctors, that that puts our colleagues into a very difficult position," Fleming said, according to The Hill.
Fleming said that the increase in spending could be offset by cuts to entitlements, such as creating work requirements for welfare and reforming the food stamp program.
A number of conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, said they would oppose any measure that is not fully offset but other cuts.
"Americans didn't hand Republicans a historic House majority to engage in more deficit spending and budget gimmickry," Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler told The Hill. "Any deal that only offsets a fraction of the cost, like the one currently being discussed behind closed doors and leaked to the press, is a non-starter for conservatives."
Fleming said, however, that he believed Democrats would support the measure by wide margins, allowing it to overcome any conservative opposition.
"Frankly, I think Democrats would support it in high numbers, and I think you'd get it passed," Fleming said, according to The Hill.
March 31 is the deadline to arrange the package and there is some doubt about whether the measure can be passed in time. If not, a temporary funding deal would need to be put in place.
"I am 100 percent committed to finding a permanent solution for SGR and believe that now is the best time to get this done," Doctors Caucus co-leader Tennessee GOP Rep. Phil Roe told The Hill.
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