"Lawmakers signed off on the final details of the bill to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits Thursday, likely clearing the way for the $152 billion measure to pass before Congress takes a break next week. The final obstacle was getting enough senators to sign the compromise bill worked out by a House and Senate conference committee. Three Republican senators refused to sign on ...."
"The bill would also prevent a cut to doctors' fees in Medicare. That portion costs $22 billion, and also had to be off-set with cuts elsewhere. The extension of the 2 percent payroll tax cut -- which costs $100 billion and is worth about $1,000 to an average family -- will be added to the deficit."
DETAILS: "TPM has obtained a detailed summary of the payroll tax cut deal, prepared by House GOP. ... The deal caps off lengthy negotiations that achieved a breakthrough this week after House Republicans agreed to extend the payroll tax cut without offsets. Unemployment insurance and the Medicare 'doc fix' will be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget."
ALMOST DIDN'T HAPPEN: "The House and Senate have cut a deal to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and Medicare physician reimbursement rates. But it almost didn’t happen. And the near miss is exposing a rift between House GOP leaders and their Senate counterparts."
MORE from Medicare Rights Center: Congressional Conference Agreement that Prevents Medicare Physician Payment Cuts
Medicare As We Knew It
"Two Republican senators unveiled a Medicare overhaul Thursday that features an accelerated transition to private health insurance for many seniors, a gradual increase in the eligibility age, and higher premiums for middle-class and upper-income retirees. Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina say they're not out to win a political popularity contest. Instead, they want to engage fellow policymakers and the public in a 'grown-up' conversation about the scope of changes needed to preserve Medicare in some form for future generations."
"'All of us in Congress are running around fixing everything except our biggest problem,' Coburn said in an interview. 'If you don't start fixing Medicare now, you can't save it.' The plan to be announced Thursday is unlikely to advance in Congress during an election year, but it will help define the debate for presidential and congressional candidates."
How can this make sense? Even worse than the Ryan plan to dismantle/repeal Medicare.
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