This week Congress voted to override President Bush’s veto of H.R. 6331, "The Medicare Improvement for Patient and Providers Act of 2008".

The President vetoed H.R. 6331 on Tuesday saying in a statement that he supports the basic premise of the legislation, but has reservations about certain aspects of the legislation. Notably, Bush cited his opposition to provisions for the Medicare Advantage (MA) Private Fee for Service (PFFS) program.

Both houses of Congress swiftly overrode the veto with large bipartisan majorities. The vote in the House was 383 to 41, while in the Senate the vote was 70 to 26.

The bill stops Medicare cuts for the next 18 months and gives physicians a 1.1 percent payment update to help payments keep up with the increasing cost of providing health care to seniors. Current Medicare payments to physicians are about what they were in 2001, while the cost of running a medical practice has increased substantially.

The bill also contains a number of other important provisions:

  • Extends PQRI reporting for 2 years and proves a 2 percent bonus payment for recording;
  • Delays the DMEPOS competitive billing program for 18 months and allows HHS to permanently exempt physician suppliers of DMEPOS from DME accreditation;
  • Extends work GPCI floor through 2009 and provides a 1.5 work GPCI for Alaska starting in 2009; and
  • Provides a 5 percent pay increase for certain mental health services from July 1, 2008, through December 1, 2009.

The AASM thanks all the members who contacted their representatives to support a bill that will protect and maintain access to care for seniors, the disabled, and military families.