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BREAKING: HEALTH CARE 8pm 7-15-08 House & Senate Override Bush Veto of Medicare Bill
Tuesday, Jul 15, 2008 3:23pm
WASHINGTON, D.C.  From CNN (By:Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: HEATH CARE NEWS 8pm 7-15-08  The Senate joined the House today in overriding President Bush's veto of a bill that would halt cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. It was only the third time in his presidency that Congress has overridden Bush's veto. 

The Senate voted 70-26 to enact the law over Bush's objections. The margin in the House of Representatives was a lopsided 383-41, well beyond the two-thirds majority needed.

A total of 21 Senate Republicans joined 47 Democrats and two independents in the override vote, according to CNN

Supporters broke a GOP-led filibuster of the bill last week, aided by the dramatic return of Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Kennedy's vote came in his first appearance on the Senate floor since surgery to remove a brain tumor in early June.

Though he did not vote Tuesday, Kennedy praised his colleagues for overriding the "misguided" veto.

"It's a great vote, and a great day for America's seniors," he said in a written statement.

Those Republicans who opposed the bill argued that it would roll back many of the changes made to Medicare in 2003, when Congress created privately run, government-subsidized prescription drug coverage and expanded the role of private insurers in other coverage.

According to CNN, the bill would stop a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors, part of a scheduled cost-saving formula that went into effect July 1.  

The American Medical Association lobbied heavily for the bill, warning that its members could be forced to curtail seeing Medicare patients if the cuts went into effect. It would also mean cutting funds from the privately administered Medicare Advantage program the Bush administration supports.  

The Medicare Advantage program subsidizes private insurers to cover seniors who would otherwise be treated through Medicare.

"Taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians is wrong," Bush said in his veto message. "I urge the Congress to send me a bill that reduces the growth in Medicare spending, increases competition and efficiency, implements principles of value-driven health care, and appropriately offsets increases in physician spending."

But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said Congress refuses to "take no for an answer."

"Today, President Bush decided that the overwhelming majority of the Congress was wrong. He'll have to explain, however, to America's seniors why he was so willing to stand between them and their health care."

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