Blunt Praises Democratic Medicare Strategy

Posted June 26, 2008 at 4:46pm

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) gave props to Democratic leaders for their strategy in advancing a Medicare physician payment bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House this week despite Republican leaders whipping hard against it.

Blunt said Democrats “did a pretty good job of taking advantage of two outside groups” — the American Medical Association and the insurance industry — in crafting a bill that lawmakers would have a hard time opposing.

Democratic leaders “did a great job strategically” of pitting doctors against insurers as a way to win GOP support for the bill, said the Republican Whip.

In addition, Democrats unveiled the final version of the bill just hours before a vote was taken on it, which meant GOP leaders didn’t have “enough time to find an offset or to whip,” said Blunt.

Democrats cut insurance benefits largely affecting rural seniors, something that the GOP has historically opposed, to pay for the politically delicate “doc fix” bill, which delays by 18 months an impending 10.6 percent cut in Medicare physician payments.

Once the final Medicare bill was unveiled Tuesday, however, GOP leaders were left scrambling to either come up with alternative offsets or whip Members into opposing a bill that would ostensibly aid their own doctors in their districts.

In the end, despite using procedural tactics to stall for time, Republican leaders ran out of time and let Members vote however they wanted. The result was a staggering 355-59 vote on final passage.

“I’ve got to give them credit for strategically making the right calls,” Blunt said.