"Basically, everybody agreed to not oppose it," Fleming said. Asked why he didn't block the measure, he said, "If I'd done that, you'd have most doctors across America see an immediate, 24 percent, off-the-cliff cut in their incomes" which would have meant "doctors across the board would have stopped seeing Medicare patients."
The measure blends $15 billion to address Medicare physicians' payments with about $5 billion more for a variety of other expiring health care provisions, like higher Medicare payments to rural hospitals and for ambulance rides in rural areas. On Wednesday night, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that said the bill would increase spending by $14 billion over the next two years and that almost $11 billion of the legislation's savings wouldn't accrue until 2024.
Savings come from curbs on payments to hospitals that care for a large share of indigent patients and by employing a gimmick regarding automatic Medicare cuts that aren't due for another 10 years.
Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.
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