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Kildee, House Block Cuts in Medicare Physician Payments

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) today voted to override the President's objections to a bill that will maintain seniors' access to their own physicians. H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements to the Patients and Providers Act of 2008, will relieve physicians who accept Medicare beneficiaries of a 10 percent cut in payments, which might have otherwise forced many physicians to deny Medicare patients. The House voted by a 383 - 41 margin to override President Bush's veto, enacting into law the timely fix.

"The misguided priorities of this President would have pushed good doctors who accept Medicare patients out of the system. I am grateful that my colleagues in both chambers have cast aside partisan politics to stand up for our seniors and avoid calamity in the Medicare system," said Kildee. "This bill will ensure that seniors have access to their own physician - whom they know and trust."

The bill prevents a 10.6 percent pay cut to physicians and provides a 1.1 percent update beginning January 1, 2009. The bill also includes important beneficiary improvements such as Medicare mental health parity, greater rural access, and enhanced assistance for low-income beneficiaries.

The Medicare Improvements to the Patients and Providers Act will:

- Prevent the pending 10.6 percent pay cut to physicians, holding rates steady for the rest of
2008, and providing a 1.1 percent update for 2009;

- Enhance assistance to rural providers by expanding access to tele-health service, increasing
payments to sole community and critical access hospitals, and preserving payment equity for
rural physicians and hospitals that run clinical laboratories;

- Extend and improve low-income assistance programs for Medicare beneficiaries whose income
is below $14,040. This includes the "Qualified Individual" program which pays part B
premiums for low-income beneficiaries with incomes of $12,480 to $14,040 a year; and

- Provide beneficiary investments of $4 billion over 5 years and $16.6 billion over ten years.
Investments include increasing asset levels to help more beneficiaries qualify for premium
assistance, Medicare mental health parity, and increased coverage for preventive services.

The Senate voted also today to override the Bush veto.

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