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House Votes Overriding Medicare Veto Of Bush

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The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to override President Bush’s veto of legislation that would undo a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare fees to physicians. The Senate is poised to act later Tuesday on an override vote, meaning the bill could become law before the day is out. The Senate passed the bill 69 to 30 on July 9. A two-thirds majority in both chambers is needed to override the veto.

On this regard Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton released a statement on Veto Override of Medicare Fix.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today issued the following statement after the Senate’s 70-26 vote to override the President’s veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, which stops a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians and makes other improvements to the program. The House earlier today also voted to override the President’s veto. The legislation will now become law.

“Today, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood up for doctors, nurses, the 44 million Americans who rely on Medicare, and the almost 9 million men and women in uniform who rely on TRICARE. By repudiating the President’s veto, Congress has stopped haphazard cuts to Medicare and TRICARE that would have done nothing to solve our health care challenges and only increase the burden on providers while limiting access to treatment for seniors, Americans with disabilities, and our men and women in uniform and their families. With this vote, we have sent a strong message not only to doctors and nurses and other health care professionals, but to the people of our country that we are better than this, and we are going to stand with you to make sure you have the health care that you deserve. I am proud that this new law includes reforms which I have championed that will improve our capacity to provide preventative care, to use electronic prescribing to reduce medication errors and to expand our ability to measure the quality of care patients receive. This is an important step toward putting our health care system on the right path.”

Earlier today, Senator Clinton spoke on the floor of the United States Senate urging her colleagues to override the President’s veto. Click here for video of Senator Clinton’s remarks. The transcript of her remarks follows:

Senator Clinton: Later today we will consider the legislation which the President vetoed this morning. I find it hard to understand why the President did so. He clearly stood against both the doctors of America and the patients of America on behalf of the insurance companies of America. Personally, I don't understand that kind of calculation.

And so today we will be joining colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand against the cutting of reimbursements for doctors who care for Medicare recipients, and standing up for making sure there is access to care for seniors, Americans with disabilities, and the men and women who serve in our military.

Couched by lofty goals and cloaked in misleading rhetoric, the President essentially vetoed health care for seniors, for veterans, and for Americans with disabilities.

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It’s a disgrace, but unfortunately it is not a surprise. This is a battle that has been waged ever since President Johnson signed the Medicare legislation into law [43] years ago this month, and long before. And I hope that today's veto and the narrow margin by which we will override it serves as a wakeup call.

By seeking to undermine Medicare, President Bush and his allies continue an unyielding, uncompromising, unrelenting, ideological crusade—a long twilight struggle to eviscerate Medicare, Social Security, and the means by which our government actually solves problems for the people of our country.

It really comes down to basic values, and it comes down to our priorities as a nation. Will you stand with our seniors, with our veterans, with our Americans with disabilities? Will you stand with hospitals that are already forced to stretch their budgets to a limit? Will you stand with the doctors who care for Medicare recipients and are already struggling to see more patients in less time every single day? Will you stand with the people of this country who need a champion in the White House?

I believe strongly that we have to override this veto. We’ve got to make it clear to the hard-working physicians in America that we are with you; that we will help by investing in preventive medicine like screening; in health information technology, which will limit costs while improving care; in new measures that will lead to improved quality; and by actually seeing what works and what doesn't work.

We know that the cuts in reimbursements that the President and his allies are seeking will also affect cuts in reimbursement and care that is accessible to military families. You see, Medicare sets the standards for payments that are used by TRICARE. TRICARE is the program that cares for our veterans, cares for active duty, cares for family members, and TRICARE uses the Medicare formula for physician payments.

You know, I’ve just finished an incredible experience, crisscrossing our country over the past 17 months, and I was inspired each and every day by the resolve and the resilience of the American people. I learned a lot, and one of the lessons that I learned is that Americans are ready, even eager, to have a government that actually works again, that solves problems, that produces results.

[Forty-three] years ago our government did that. It wasn't easy, and it literally took years, even decades, to achieve. But when Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law, he sent a very clear signal to those who worried about whether they would be able to afford to take care of themselves or take care of their parents and their grandparents, that health care will be available to you.

Now we have a lot of work to do in the next years to make sure that Medicare fulfills its promise, and I look forward to working with like-minded allies on both sides of the aisle to make it clear that we will stand behind Medicare. We’ll need to be modernized, we'll have to make some changes so that it works better so that it emphasizes prevention. But you don't start by penalizing the people who take care of those who are on Medicare today. You know, the doctors and nurses of America do heroic work every single day. Our hospitals stand ready to care for those in need.

So let's not make it more difficult to actually deliver the services that will save lives, ameliorate suffering, extend the quality of life. So, Madam President, I’m hoping that when this vote is held in a few hours, we will have a resounding repudiation of President Bush’s veto and send a message not only to doctors and nurses and other health care professionals, but to the people of our country that we are better than this, and we are going to stand with you to make sure you have the health care that you deserve under the program that has meant so much to so many for so long: Medicare.

Thank you, Madam President.