Washington, D.C. – Doctors and seniors in Rhode Island and around the country were spared deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements today, when the United States Senate voted to override a presidential veto on legislation blocking the cuts from taking effect.
The Senate initially passed the bill last week, as U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) returned for the first time since undergoing surgery for brain cancer to cast a critical vote.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who voted to override the veto and pass the bill, applauded the move. “We will not let President Bush wield his veto pen against American seniors,” Whitehouse said. “I am thankful that, with Senator Kennedy’s leadership, we were able to prevent the president’s harmful cuts to Medicare, and that Rhode Island veterans and seniors will continue to have access to the physicians they know and trust.”
The cuts, had they been allowed to take effect, would have decreased Medicare’s physician reimbursement rates by 10.6 percent, and could have made it more difficult for doctors to continue seeing many seniors and people with disabilities who are covered by Medicare. Veterans who have health insurance through TRICARE would have also been affected, because TRICARE operates under the same payment guidelines as Medicare.