Congress Overrides Bush Veto of Medicare Bill
Posted by Mike Hall to AFL-CIO NOW
As he has throughout his nearly eight years in the White House, President Bush cast his lot with insurance companies and big corporations when he vetoed a bill today that would strengthen Medicare for the nation’s seniors.
But just hours later, the House (on a vote of 383–41) and the Senate (on a 70-26 vote) overrode Bush’s veto. Passage of the bill means the pending cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients have been stopped.
If those cuts had gone into effect, as many as 60 percent of physicians would have been forced to stop treating new Medicare patients and been forced to drop others from their rolls, according to the American Medical Association.
After Bush vetoed the bill, George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said the veto “would prompt an exodus of physicians from treating Medicare patients and make it even harder for low-income seniors to afford their medical care—all in the name of preserving the excessive taxpayer subsidies to the Medicare Advantage programs run by large insurance companies.”
Bush vetoed the bill because it would trim payments to the insurance companies in his Medicare privatization experiment, Medicare Advantage, and begin to slow the explosive growth in the most troubling type of those plans, private-fee-for-service. These plans will grow more slowly simply because they will now have to meet a basic requirement: to establish adequate provider networks. Too many seniors have been enrolled in these plans only to find it doesn’t cover care from their doctor or hospital.
Private insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans are paid, on average, 13 percent more than it costs the government to provide benefits directly under Medicare—and 17 percent more for the private fee for service plans. Under the current payment formula, the big insurers were projected to pocket $150 billion over the next 10 years. Says Kourpias:
“This egregious example of corporate welfare siphons valuable money from the Medicare Trust Fund, taking from those with the least and giving to those with the most….President Bush’s veto…continues his legacy of sacrificing older Americans’ health care needs for the profits of large corporations.”
The bill first passed the House in June 24 by a 355-59 margin, but Republican Senate leaders—with White House support—roadblocked it. A vote to end a filibuster against the Medicare bill fell one vote short June 26.
But last week, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) made his first appearance in the Senate since being diagnosed with brain cancer two months earlier to cast the deciding vote to break the filibuster. Several Republican senators then switched their votes when it became clear the measure to end the debate would pass, and the final vote was 69–30.
Tags: House Of Representative , Senate , Medicare , George Bush , Ted Kennedy
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.