ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports
President Obama called on Congress during his weekly address to allow a vote on the so called “doc fix legislation” that would prevent a pay cut for Medicare doctors.
“This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21 percent – a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether,” Obama said in the address, noting that since 2003 Congress has acted to prevent the pay cuts from going into effect.
“But this time,” he added, “some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue. After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors.”
President Obama warned that if Congress doesn’t act, doctors will see the 21 percent cut in their Medicare payments this coming week.
“This week, doctors will start receiving these lower reimbursements from the Medicare program,” he said. “That could lead them to stop participating in the Medicare program, and that could lead seniors to lose their doctors. We cannot allow this to happen.”
Noting that he realized that there needs to be a long-term solution to the problem, the president said that he is “committed to permanently reforming” the Medicare system.
“I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path,” he said. “But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong.”
The president urged Republicans to allow a vote to stop the pay cut.
“I urge them to stand with America’s seniors and America’s doctors,” Obama said.
Senate Republicans say there will be a vote when the Senate comes back in session.
The Senate’s top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his party wants to avoid reducing physicians’ fees, but do it without adding to the deficit — meaning spending cuts elsewhere.
“Right now, among other challenges, we have a debt crisis, a jobs crisis, a housing crisis, a financial crisis, and an oil spill that the American people clearly don’t believe government is effectively responding to,” MConnell said. “So you can understand the American people’s skepticism when they’re told that simply adding more government is the solution to government’s previous failures.”