This is from NAHU:
The Los Angeles Times (7/16, Gaouette) reports that “Congress delivered a stern rebuke to President Bush on Tuesday, overriding his veto of a Medicare bill, and preventing pay cuts to doctors who treat seniors, the disabled, and military personnel.” The measure “halts a scheduled 10.6 percent cut in payments to physicians, and institutes a 1.1 percent payment increase in 2009.” Even though the President had “little chance of prevailing, Bush issued the veto [Tuesday] morning, declaring the bill ‘objectionable,'” and “fiscally irresponsible.”
According to the New York Times (7/16, A13, Pear), “In his veto message, Mr. Bush said he objected to the bill because it would cut federal payments to Medicare Advantage plans and slow the growth of such plans, offered by insurance companies as an alternative to traditional Medicare.” The President added, “I support the primary objective of this legislation, to forestall reductions in physician payments,” but “taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians is wrong.” The Times points out, however, that “[m]any independent studies have found that the private plans, sold by insurers like Humana and UnitedHealth, cost the government more per person than traditional Medicare.” Still, the President insisted “that reducing payments to the plans would force them to ‘reduce benefits to millions of seniors.'”
Just hours after the veto, the “House voted 383 to 41 to override” it, “while the Senate voted 70 to 26, in both cases far more than the two-thirds necessary to block the President’s action,” the Washington Post (7/16, A2, Abramowitz, Kane) adds. By casting this vote, “Republicans broke heavily from the White House. A total of 153 House Republicans voted to defy the White House, 24 more than in a June 24 vote that started the momentum toward passage of the Medicare doctors’ bill” Tuesday. Furthermore, “21 Senate Republicans voted for the bill this time, including four senators who had voted ‘nay’ in the two previous Medicare votes.”
The Wall Street Journal (7/16, A6, Mathews) reports that the “new law is a victory for Democrats after a partisan standoff that dragged on for weeks. It was broken dramatically last week when Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) returned to the Senate floor to cast a decisive vote.” The Medicare measure “is also a win for doctors, among other lobbying interests, largely at the expense of health insurers,” which “will face cutbacks to the Medicare” Advantage plans they offer.
The AP (7/16, Freking), Bloomberg (7/16, Marcus), Minnesota’s Star Tribune (7/16), Congressional Quarterly (7/16, Armstrong), The Hill (7/16, Young), USA Today‘s (7/15, Winter) On Deadline blog, the Chicago Tribune‘s (7/15, Graham)Triage blog, the Washington Times (7/16, Ward), MedPage Today (7/15, Walker), Modern Healthcare (7/15, Lubell), and CNN (7/15) also covered the story.
Various health sectors benefit from Medicare veto override. The Hill (7/16, Young) reports that “[a]lmost lost amid the donnybrook between physicians and health insurers over Medicare is how many other healthcare sectors scored wins in the Medicare bill that” passed Tuesday. For instance, the legislation “includes a delay in the implementation of a competitive bidding program that most of the DME [durable medical equipment] industry opposed, led by the American Association for Homecare and companies like Invacare and American HomePatient, that make or sell oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, diabetes test strips, and other supplies.” In addition, the “drugstore industry won some long-sought-after provisions in the legislation,” such as the “requirement that drug plans pay pharmacies for the medicines they dispense within 14 days.” And, the “bill…contains provisions to delay the implementation of a change to the Medicaid drug pricing formula, called ‘Average Manufacturer Price,’ opposed by pharmacies.”
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