Congress confronts Medicare cuts to doctors' fees, but a permanent fix remains unlikely

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By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hope is fading for a Capitol Hill drive to permanently fix Medicare's outdated payment formula and spare doctors from automatic cuts in their fees next month. Now the question is whether lawmakers can regroup and come up with a short-term solution when the current patch expires.

There's widespread support for bipartisan legislation to repair, once and for all, the broken Medicare formula that threatens doctors with a 24 percent cut in their Medicare payments.

But there's no agreement on how to bear the 10-year, $140 billion cost.

The GOP-controlled House passed a bill that combines the so-called doc fix with a delay in imposing penalties on individuals who fail to purchase health care under the health care law. That measure is dead in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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