Congress overwhelmingly overrode President Bush's
veto of legislation stopping the 10.6-percent cut in Medicare
payments to physicians on Tuesday. The House of Representatives
voted 383-41 to override the veto, while the Senate voted
Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison
voted with the majority of the Senate in nullifying the veto. They
originally opposed the bill in June but, thanks to e-mails,
telephone calls, and letters from angry physicians rallied by the
Texas Medical Association and its political arm, TEXPAC, they
changed their votes and voted for it when it came up again last
week. Physicians kept the pressure on Senators Cornyn and Hutchison
to make sure they continued to support the bill.
"Texas physicians are very proud of Senators Cornyn
and Hutchison and the 17 House members from Texas who voted to
override the veto. On behalf of our patients, we offer our
heartfelt thanks," said TMA President Josie Williams, MD.
"Texas physicians are standing with our
patients - seniors, military families, and patients with
disabilities - to ensure that their medical needs are met
now and in the future. This short-term fix is the first step. We
call upon leaders on both sides of the aisle to begin bipartisan
work. Now, today, is the time to begin work toward a long-term
solution of the Medicare financing fiasco."
- Stops the 10.6-percent cut, continues current rates for the
rest of this year, and provides an additional 1.1-percent
increase in 2009;
- Gives Congress 18 months to devise a long-term replacement
for the Sustainable Growth Rate financing formula, as TMA demands
- Extends the Geographical Practice Cost Index, which protects
physicians practicing in most of Texas; and
- Provides parity for Medicare mental health benefits and
increases coverage for preventive services.
President Bush vetoed the bill earlier in the day
because it cut the Medicare Advantage program. He said he supports
the bill's intent -stopping the physician fee cuts - but said
"taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians is
"It's unfortunate that President Bush chose to put
the profits of health insurance companies before the needs of
Medicare patients," Dr. Williams said.
The day after Congress overrode the veto, the Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services said physicians should begin receiving the
updated rates in about 10 business days or less. Medicare
updating their payment systems with the new
), it said.
CMS said in the meantime, to avoid disrupting claims payment,
Medicare contractors will process the claims put on hold after
Congress initially failed to stop the 10.6-percent reduction. After
Medicare contractors begin to pay claims at the new rate, CMS said,
they will automatically reprocess any claims paid at the lower
"Claims with dates of service July 1 and later billed with a
submitted charge at least at the level of the January 1-June 30,
2008, fee schedule amount will be automatically reprocessed," CMS
said. "Any lesser amount will require providers to contact
their local contractor for direction on obtaining
adjustments. Non-participating physicians who submitted
unassigned claims at the reduced nonparticipation amount also will
need to request an adjustment."
, July 16, 2008