"No," Huelskamp concluded. "It's to jam House Republican conservatives."
But across the Capitol, some Senate Republicans sounded like they might be just fine with getting "jammed."
Senators from both parties said Tuesday that they're content to let the House continue to take the lead on the permanent doc fix, and implied that if a bill could pass the House, it would stand a pretty good chance in the Senate.
"If this [sustainable growth rate] fix passes the House, I think there are a number of us that will encourage the leader to bring it to the floor," said GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said he's gotten the same indication from the Senate.
"What I hear from my friends on the other side of the Capitol is they're willing to go along with this," Pitts said.
The reported deal, which Huelskamp repeatedly said he hadn't seen yet, would ditch the "sustainable growth rate" for Medicare payments to doctors and reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program for two years. Its expected costs would be $200 billion, about $70 billion of which would be directly paid for through beneficiary and provider cuts.
That's the expected sticking point for fiscal hawks, and Huelskamp said he thought Boehner might have to violate the Hastert rule—the informal rule that House leadership will put a bill on the floor only if a majority of the House majority will vote for it—to get it passed.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, another member on the House's conservative flank, also sounded skeptical. He referenced the recent fight over Department of Homeland Security funding, in which most Republicans voted against the funding bill (157 nays) but 182 Democrats voted for it to get it passed.
"They may well have put together a package that's not designed to get more than 50 Republican votes," King said. "That will be a very dramatic thing if that's what comes to pass."
Senators said they're withholding their final judgments until they see the bill, but made clear that the Senate will be taking its cues from whatever the House leadership can put together.
"I'm ready for a permanent fix. I've got to see the details," said GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate health committee.
Notably, Barrasso—who is a doctor as well as a reliable conservative—seemed to be on board with Boehner's approach to paying for the measure. Asked whether he was concerned that the costs of the package aren't offset within the traditional 10-year window, Barrasso pointed to its longer-term cuts in benefits and provider payments—the same answer Boehner's allies are giving to conservatives.
"I want to see what the House actually can pass. "¦ I'm in favor of completely eliminating the SGR and finding the best way to do it," Barrasso said.