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Medicare reprieve for doctors OK’d

WASHINGTON — Legislation to give doctors a yearlong reprieve from a looming 24 percent cut in their payments from Medicare overcame turbulence in the House on Thursday and appears on track to clear the Senate next week, possibly just hours before a Monday midnight deadline.

The bill passed the House Thursday on a surprise voice vote after an hour-long delay signaled GOP leaders were having difficulty mustering the two-thirds vote to pass the bill under fast-track procedures. Prominent Democrats withheld support, as did a host of rank-and-file Republicans, which led top leaders in both parties to call off a roll call vote and ease the measure through with a wink and a nod.

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The vote was engineered by majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, with cooperation from minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

It came after several leading Democrats weighed in against the bill, which would ‘‘patch’’ the Medicare fee system for 12 months. They complained that the temporary measure would set back efforts to find a permanent fix for the program’s payment formula.

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