Aides: Senate Democrats oppose possible bipartisan Medicare deal without more money for kids

Associated Press

Senior Senate Democratic aides say Democratic senators will oppose a potential bipartisan deal from the House to prevent cuts in physicians' Medicare payments if it doesn't finance a children's health program for four years.

The aides spoke Sunday as House bargainers try to stave off a 21 percent reduction in doctors' Medicare reimbursements scheduled for April 1. Negotiators want to craft an agreement annulling a 1997 formula that annually threatens deep cuts in those payments.

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Lobbyists have said that as part of that package, bargainers have discussed providing money for the Children's Health Insurance Program for two more years, which would cost around $5 billion. They say the overall measure would cost roughly $200 billion over 10 years.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on private negotiations.