Last-Minute Lobbying Threatens $200B Medicare Package

Lawmakers and lobbyists representing children’s insurance advocates, seniors’ healthcare providers and other specialty groups are pressing to amend a $200 billion Medicare package the Senate hopes to send to President Obama’s desk next week.

The underlying bill would permanently change Medicare to prevent cuts in physician payments that Congress has had to repeatedly patch for more than two decades.

The 263-page package was approved overwhelmingly by the House, but represents a delicately negotiated compromise. Proponents fear the last-minute demands could sink a bill crafted in part by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“We’re saying, ‘Please, please, please don’t amend it,’” a spokesperson from one doctor’s group said.