Historic Physician Payment Legislation Enacted into Law

On July 15 President Bush vetoed the House and Senate approved "Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008" (H.R. 6331). Shortly after the President's veto, both the House of Representatives and the Senate successfully overrode the veto. Actions by the House and Senate allowed H.R. 6331 to be enacted into law without the President's signature.

The final House vote was 383 to 41. That breaks down to 153 Republicans joining 230 Democrats in supporting the veto override. The "No" votes consisted of 41 Republicans, while 11 Members did not vote.

The Senate vote was 70 to 26. Of these votes, 22 were Republicans, 46 were Democrats and 2 were Independents. Republican Senators voting yes were:

Alexander (TN), Bond (MO), Chambliss (GA), Cochran (MS), Coleman (MN), Collins (ME), Corker (TN), Cornyn (TX), Dole (NC), Hutchison (TX), Isakson (GA), Lugar (IN), Martinez (FL), Murkowski (AK), Roberts (KS), Smith (OR), Snowe (ME), Specter (PA), Stevens (AK), Voinovich (OH), Warner (VA), Wicker (MS)

This historic vote brings to a close more than 6 months of advocacy activity and averts greater than 16% of cuts in Medicare payments for all physicians over the next 18 months. The provisions of H.R. 6331 are effective as of July 1, 2008 and are applicable until December 31, 2009.

The "Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008" (H.R. 6331):
* Prevents implementation of cuts for 18 months and provides physicians with positive payment updates through December 31, 2009.
* Extends the current 0.5% positive payment update through December 31, 2008.
* Provides a positive payment update of 1.1% for 2009.
* Extends the 1.0 work GPCI for all localities until December 31, 2009.
* Extends PQRI as a voluntary program with bonus payments increasing to 2%from 1.5% in 2008.
Ray Quintero (rquintero@osteopathic.org )

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