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Congress Approves Longer-Term Fix For Medicare Reimbursements

The Senate gave final passage Tuesday night to a lasting fix for a long-running problem with Medicare reimbursements for doctors, NPR's Giles Snyder reports. Doctors faced a 21 percent reduction in the fees.

Eight senators, all Republicans, voted against the bill because funding has not been fully allocated for its $214 billion cost. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will add $141 billion to the federal budget deficit in the next decade.

Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, two of the three GOP senators who officially have announced bids for the White House in 2016, were among the opponents.

Cruz told NPR's Juana Summers that, beyond being fully paid for, the bill should include structural reforms to Medicare that provided seniors more control over their health care.

President Obama has said he will sign the bill, and praised its passage in a statement late Tuesday.

"Nearly every year for the past 13 years, physicians have faced the possibility of an arbitrary cut in their payments from Medicare unless Congress passed a so-called 'doc fix.' In my budget, I called for putting a permanent end to this annual manufactured crisis to ensure that doctors will not face a sudden drop in their pay. This bill is consistent with that proposal."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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