News: Congress blocks Medicare reimbursement cuts

August 15, 2008

The House and Senate overrode President Bush's veto of legislation that protects doctors from a cut in Medicare reimbursement rates.

With the clock expired, the House and Senate overrode President Bush's veto of legislation that protects doctors from a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare rates for their services. Had the veto held, the reduction would have been effective retroactive to July 1. Thanks to Congress' intervention, however, rates will stay the same for the remainder of 2008 and will increase 1.1 percent in 2009. According to the American Society of Internal Medicine, other provisions of the bill raise primary care physicians' payment for office visits, provide more money for a Medicare "medical home" demonstration project, and expand coverage of preventive and mental health services. "With H.R. 6331 now law, Congress can redirect its attention from just 'stopping the cut' to enacting comprehensive reforms to correct a broken physician payment system," says Jeffrey P. Harris, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians.