WASHINGTON — House Republicans intend to propose a gradual increase in Medicare premiums for wealthy seniors to help cover the cost of renewing Social Security payroll tax cuts and benefits for the long-term jobless, officials said Tuesday.

The precise details remain to be worked out as the leadership consults with rank-and-file Republicans about the legislation, which has grown significantly in recent days and is expected on the House floor next week.

GOP officials described the plan on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been made.

In addition to the extension of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits that are at the heart of President Obama’s jobs program, House Republicans plan to include a provision to avert a 27 percent cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. All three face a Dec. 31 deadline for action.

In addition, GOP leaders eager to attract votes for the measure are likely to include conservative-backed provisions to speed the construction of a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas and block a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule restricting toxic emissions from industrial boilers.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, pitched a bill Tuesday aiming to reach a bipartisan compromise on extending the payroll tax cut that they also labeled a jobs bill.

Collins and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., unveiled a bill that maintains a 2 percent tax cut for 2012 and applies it also to an employer’s first $10 million of payroll. It is paid for with a surcharge on people making more than $1 million, but, as Collins said she wanted to do last week, small-business owners are exempted from the surcharge.

The bill also contains money for transportation projects that McCaskill favors and regulatory overhaul provisions Collins favors, and it ends some tax breaks for major oil companies.

Collins and McCaskill said their bill is designed to overcome partisan gridlock.

Collins said she was not discouraged by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy to help pay for the payroll tax cut extension.

While some Republicans want to let the payroll tax cut to expire Dec. 31, “I’m encouraged that Sen. McConnell believes that it should be extended and that is obviously a key provision of my bill,” Collins said. 

– MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind
contributed to this report.