Senate tees up votes on $200B Medicare deal

The Senate is poised to vote Tuesday on a handful of amendments to a roughly $200 billion Medicare deal, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.

Senate leaders are expected to enforce limited debate on the amendments, creating the high bar of 60 votes for passage, according to a lobbyist familiar with the talks. 

“We don’t want to amend this bill to death; we want three simple amendments,” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday from the Senate floor.

Reid did not specify what proposals the amendments would contain. But two people familiar with the talks, including a Senate Democratic aide, said Democrats want a four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the removal of abortion-related language known as the Hyde Amendment and a repeal of the Medicare therapy cap.

The children’s insurance program is extended for two years under the bill, which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has described as one of the critical compromises in the deal. But Senate Democrats have repeatedly argued that two years is not enough.

Repeal of the Medicare therapy cap, which limits outpatient coverage, has been a top priority for groups such as AARP.

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