Washington (CNN) – The House voted Thursday to prevent cuts in coming years in Medicare reimbursements to doctors.
However, the so-called "doc fix" bill was defeated earlier this year in the Senate, which is unlikely to reconsider the measure until after it completes work on an overall health care reform bill.
The House approved the $210 billion bill on a 243-183 vote, mostly on partisan lines. Democrats called it a necessary step to address an annual problem under a 1997 formula that limits increases in Medicare reimbursement costs.
Each year, Congress has voted to override the formula to prevent a cut in the money reimbursed to doctors providing Medicare services. For 2010, doctors face a 21 percent cut in reimbursements without a congressional remedy. The doc-fix bill would replace the old formula as a permanent solution for the recurring funding issue.
Republicans called the bill a budget buster that would raise the federal deficit by more than $200 billion. They accused Democrats of separating the bill from the larger health care reform legislation as a political trick to hold down the cost of the more comprehensive health care measure.
The doc-fix legislation was considered an important incentive for the American Medical Association to support the overall health care reform bill.
Democratic leaders wanted House approval for the bill to signal the AMA of their intention to continue pushing for it despite the earlier defeat in the Senate.