After the Senate failed to pass the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) patch to help doctors avert a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republicans of deliberately voting against the bill to undermine health care reform. The amendment, which was not paid for, failed 47-53, “13 short of the 60 needed to advance the measure” to a final vote. Thirteen Democrats joined all Republicans to oppose the measure.
“One of the sponsors of this legislation, one of the Republican leaders is not supporting this legislation,” Reid said referring to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). “How do you like that? This is another effort of the Republicans to slow down, divert, and stop what we’re trying to do with health care and basically everything else.” Reid suggested that Republicans were keeping the issue alive to divert broader health reform and and accused them of hypocrisy:
I want everyone here to know, we’re going to take care of Medicare. If the Republicans here in the Senate don’t want to do it the way we’ve done it in the past by doing this doctors’ fix, then we will, when we finish the health care legislation, we’ll come back and we’ll take care of a multiple-year fix for the doctors and senior citizens….but I think it’s really too bad that suddenly they’ve gotten religion. They never worried in the past about all these tax cuts being paid for. They never worried about the drug manufacturers getting all this free stuff they got. They never worried about any of this. They now are suddenly being very frugal, very frugal when they find it’s a way that they can slow down what we do here.
The vote underlines the GOP’s duplicitous strategy and also reveals the diminishing power of the American Medical Association (AMA). “We were told by the American Medical Association and others, that we would get help by the Republicans to take care of senior citizens so they could have doctors to take care of them,” Reid lamented. The vote is a defeat for the AMA, which spent some $2 million dollars lobbying for the SGR fix in the last 2 weeks.