Constituent Services
Higgins Hails Veto Override to Stop Cuts to Medicare Payments
July 15, 2008

Washington, D.C.-   Today Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to override the President’s veto of  H.R. 6331, Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.


“This override of President Bush’s veto is a victory for our senior citizens, men and women in uniform, and Americans with disabilities,” said Higgins. “Western New Yorkers are already struggling with skyrocketing health care costs, declining reimbursements and caring for a growing number of uninsured. I am proud that The House of Representatives came together on a bipartisan basis to override the President’s misguided veto and put Medicare back on the right path towards reform.”


On June 24, the House passed H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act by a veto-proof margin of 355 to 59.  On July 9, the Senate passed the bill and sent it to the President after invoking cloture to proceed to the bill by a veto-proof margin of 69 to 30.  Despite the strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, the President vetoed the bill this morning.  Today, the House took up H.R. 6331 and voted too pass the bill over the President’s veto.  The bill will now be sent back to the Senate.


The bill allows seniors to have access to the doctors they know and trust by eliminating the pending 10 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians for the remainder of 2008 and provides a 1.1 percent increase in Medicare physician payments for 2009.  The bill also provides a 2 percent increase for doctors who report on quality measures through 2010 and provides financial incentives to providers to encourage the use of electronic prescribing technology. The legislation does the same for active-duty military personnel and military retirees in Tricare, because when Medicare reduces payments to doctors, doctors’ payments under the Tricare program are also reduced.


Additionally, this legislation will provide the following benefits:


  • Guaranteed enhanced Medicare preventive and mental health benefits, including providing for mental health parity in the Medicare program.


  • Guaranteed improvements in and extension of programs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, including increasing the amount of assets that low-income beneficiaries can have and still qualify for help with Medicare costs.


  • Guaranteed improvements in Medicare for both health care providers and beneficiaries in rural America, including improving payments for sole community hospitals, critical access hospitals, and ambulances.


  • Establishes a process to make much needed reforms to the Competitive Bidding process for durable medical equipment.


  • Protects access to therapy services by extending the exceptions process to the limits on therapy visits for beneficiaries in nursing homes.


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