July 21, 2008

Congress overrides Bush Medicare veto

Source: NYSUT News Wire

NYSUT retirees are heralding a recent Congressional override of President Bush's veto on an important Medicare bill, which many see as a message to the administration that its push to privatize Medicare will not be tolerated.

The bill protects doctors from cuts in their Medicare payments, while reducing federal payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by certain insurers. The House vote was 383 to 41; the senate vote was 70 to 26.

"The override was a tremendous victory for our retirees in defending the traditional Medicare system against ideological attacks by the Bush Administration," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, who oversees Program Services. "However great the victory, it is just the first salvo in a ongoing battle NYSUT retirees must wage during the next Congress to fix the nation's health care system, and to reverse the misguided policies calling for privatization of the Medicare program."

The bill cancels a 10-percent cut in payments to doctors that was scheduled to occure automatically as part of a statutory formula.

NYSUT retirees saw the override as an especially strong victory because of its rarity - this marks only the fourth time in George Bush's presidency that Congress has overriden his veto - and because of its significance in certain especially high-cost regions of the state, including Long Island. There, retirees had a legitimate fear that many doctors would drop their Medicare patients if faced with a cut in Medicare payments.