Sen. Coburn takes aim at tax bill’s ‘California Schemin’?’ provision

June 11, 2010 05:57

First came the “Louisiana purchase” and the “Cornhusker kickback” in the healthcare bill. Now, Senate Republicans are taking aim at what they call a “California Schemin’” provision buried in the $140 billion tax extenders bill.

By Walter Alarkon at The Hill

California Democrats, as well as the state’s GOP governor, say it is needed to help counties deal with paltry Medicare payments to doctors. It would increase Medicare payments to doctors in California counties considered rural under Medicare’s payment formula.

These growing counties increasingly are becoming urban and have seen healthcare costs skyrocket. The higher Medicare payments offered in urban areas are needed to ensure hospitals can hire doctors to take care of patients under Medicare, supporters of the provision said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, a conservative Oklahoma Republican, argues that the provision is a wasteful special deal — an earmark — that unfairly singles out one state for favorable treatment. The payments would cost $400 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“It has the appearance of a taxpayer-funded campaign subsidy and, in the tradition of the ‘Cornhusker kickback,’ it unfairly singles out one state for special treatment,” said John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn.

Cobun has offered an amendment to strike the measure from the tax extenders bill.


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