Senate passes Medicare bill voiding 10.6% physician fee cut

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The U.S. Senate has approved legislation by a veto-proof margin that would void a 10.6% pay cut for physicians treating Medicare patients. The bill now goes to the White House.

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation by a veto-proof margin that would void a 10.6% pay cut for physicians treating Medicare patients. The bill now goes to the White House.

The House had already approved the measure, but a Senate vote 3 weeks ago fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate. Last week’s vote to limit debate was approved 69-30, with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) casting a crucial vote. Under a previous agreement, once the 60-vote threshold was met, the bill was considered approved.

Nine Republicans voted for the measure after previously voting against limiting debate. President Bush’s advisers have said they will recommend that he veto the bill.

Lawmakers are under pressure from physicians and older patients to void the cut, which kicked in July 1 because of the funding formula that establishes lower reimbursement rates when Medicare spending levels exceed established targets. Medicare officials indicated that they would begin making payments at the reduced rate some time after July 15.

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