Friday, July 11, 2008
The Washington Post reports on the recent approval of the Medicare Bill due in part to Senator Kennedy's encouragement. Paul Kane writes,
The legislation was approved by a veto-proof margin, 69 to 30, after falling one vote shy of passage less than two weeks ago. Kennedy cited that close vote, and his potential to make a difference, as the reason for his reappearance…
Kennedy cast his vote to prevent a 10.6 percent cut in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. On June 26, just 59 senators voted in favor of the legislation, which needed 60 votes to overcome Republican objections to the bill. Kennedy was not present for that vote.
The cuts in that program, which supporters say benefits elderly patients in rural communities, would allow Democrats to postpone the pay cut to doctors for 18 months but would cost the insurers $14 billion over five years.
Yesterday, attended a luncheon of Senate Republicans just hours before the vote, speaking against the Medicare legislation and assuring senators that Bush would veto the bill, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Despite Cheney's lobbying, 18 Republicans supported the measure -- twice as many as last time. All 49 Democrats and both independents voted for it.
Democrats credited Kennedy's vote as the moment when some Republicans realized the bill would be approved, offering them a last chance to side with physicians. "Once we hit 60, it became a lot more," said (D-Ill.)…
Since the initial vote, Republicans had come under intense pressure from the , which aired advertisements in states where such Republicans as who opposed the provision, were facing reelection. The Texas chapter of the AMA withdrew its endorsement of Cornyn after his first vote. Yesterday, he switched sides.
The Medicare fee reductions are based on a funding formula more than a decade old that requires payment cuts to doctors whenever the growth rate in Medicare costs climbs above the growth in the gross domestic product.
Soaring health-care costs have caused regular payment cuts, but Congress has postponed them. The current reduction took effect July 1, but the government has said it would delay processing claims until early next week.