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Home » Heart News » July 9, 2008

Senate Reverses Medicare Cuts to Doctors

July 9, 2008 -- In a critical vote that threatened to cut Medicare payments to physicians by more than 10%, the U.S. Senate today approved legislation that reverses those cuts. Buoyed by the appearance of Senator Ted Kennedy, who made his first visit to the Senate since being operated on for brain cancer, the Senate passed the law by a veto-proof 69-30 vote. The Senate erupted in applause for the Senator who stated, "I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens, and thats to protect Medicare. Win, lose or draw, I wasnt going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference.

A number of Republicans crossed over to cast their vote in favor; the lone Senator who did not attend or vote was Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

Although the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed this legislation two weeks ago 355-59, when the bill came to the Senate, it failed by one vote, meaning that the cuts would take place on July 1. Medicare ruled to freeze the rates until the Senate could reconvene after the July 4th holiday for a revote. The veto-proof majority is crucial because President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation, stating that it would reduce payments to private Medicare Advantage plans.

Among many cuts to Medicare would have been a variety of diagnostic and imaging procedures. The new legislation reinstates those cuts, and sets up provision for accreditation and appropriateness criteria. Andrew Whitman, Vice President of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), stated, "We are pleased that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have embraced appropriateness criteria and accreditation as the best approach to addressing utilization. MITA applauds the work the Congress has put forth to ensure that this final Medicare bill ensures American seniors will be able to continue accessing the medical imaging technology they need to detect and fight serious illnesses such as cancer, heart and vascular disease, and orthopedic conditions.


Reported on July 9, 2008 by Burt Cohen

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