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Capps Votes to Override Veto of Medicare Legislation

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, joined the vast majority of her colleagues in the House on Tuesday to vote to override President Bush’s misguided veto of key legislation to protect Medicare patients and providers from devastating cuts to Medicare physician reimbursements.

The legislation also enhanced Medicare services for seniors and the disabled. The veto override passed 383-41. Last month, despite protests from Republican congressional leaders, the House passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (House Resolution 6331) by a large bipartisan margin with a vote of 355-59. On Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill by a veto-proof margin of 69-30 and then sent it to the president, who vetoed it earlier Tuesday.

“It’s unfortunate that President Bush has decided once again to do a favor for his special interest friends in the insurance industry at the expense of seniors, the disabled and the caring health professionals who take care of them,” said Capps, a nurse and vice chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee. “Fortunately, the Democratic-led House and Senate have heard the calls of the American people demanding that one of our nation’s most critical safety nets – Medicare – be protected and enhanced.

“By enacting this legislation over the unreasonable objections of President Bush and several House and Senate Republicans, we have held off the 10.6 percent payment cut that would devastate thousands of Medicare physicians and their vulnerable patients. We are also taking a much needed step to improve Medicare services for preventive care, mental health and for our low-income beneficiaries. I hope that the Senate will move quickly to join us in overriding the President’s veto so we can ensure that our physicians can continue to do their vital work of caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

A copy of Capps’ floor speech as prepared for delivery follows:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this veto override.

“It is apparent that President Bush has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House and Senate.

“He would rather cozy up to his friends in the insurance industry than improve access to health care for seniors. But I am proud to support HR 6331, our seniors and our health care professionals who need this legislation.

“To be honest, I don’t love the idea of having to do another last minute fix, but the administration and Senate Republicans wouldn’t support the long-term fix we passed last year in the CHAMP Act. So until we have a new administration in the White House, we have to do what we can to protect our physicians and their patients.

“HR 6331 does the right thing by preventing a 10 percent cut in reimbursements and provides a modest increase in physician reimbursements.

“I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, and vote to override the president’s veto.”

Emily Kryder is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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