Phew! Congress rejects Bush veto of Medicare bill

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Talk about sending a clear message to the president.

In a rare display of unified opposition, Congress overwhelmingly overrode President Bush’s veto of the crucial Medicare bill late Tuesday.

The House broke it with a vote 383 to 41, while the Senate amassed the strength to beat it 70 to 26.

It was just the third time Congress has successfully voted to override a veto by Bush. (The president has vetoed nine pieces of legislation during his terms in the White House, according to The Hill newspaper.)

I’m not sure what the president was thinking in vetoing the bill with his odds—likely a symbolic gesture more than anything else—but Congress dug deep to tell George Bush: not this time.
(In the waning months of its session, there may just be hope for this Congress yet!)

As all in the long-term care community know by now, the bill reinstates some much-needed funding. First and foremost, it extends an exceptions process for Part B outpatient therapy. What this means is that many of those who would ordinarily exceed the government-imposed financial caps on physical, speech and occupational therapy can continue to receive it.

It also delays a bidding program for durable medical goods equipment providers. Nursing homes are relieved with this development since the program could put a lot of longtime smaller companies out of business.

Last—and most publicized by the national press—it stops a steep payment cut to those physicians who serve Medicare patients.

All in all, the bill offers much good to the healthcare community—and they may want to send a thank-you note to their lawmakers just to get that point across.

The only unfortunate part is, knowing the stress nursing homes and doctors have endured in recent weeks, that passage had to take this long.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.