President Bush plans to veto a Medicare reform bill Tuesday that would stave off cuts to physician payments through 2009 and make other adjustments to the program, HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy announced during a teleconference.
Both the House and Senate approved the bill by a veto-proof margin. Troy admitted the White House was in a tough position politically, as it doesnt have enough votes to sustain its expected veto.
Votes to override the presidential veto are expected to occur after the president officially rejects the legislation.
The bill halts a 10.6% cut to physician payments for the next 18 months, includes a slight pay bump in 2009 and makes other adjustments. Troy called its provisions fiscally irresponsible, claiming it would take choices away from American seniors by cutting the Medicare Advantage program. He also criticized provisions to postpone a demonstration project on competitive bidding for durable medical equipment.
The veto would coincide with a 10.6% cut to physician payments scheduled to go into effect Tuesday. The CMS had put a hold on the payment cut for two weeks.
Once this hold expires, contractors presumably will have no choice but to process the claims with the 10.6% cut unless the president signs the bill into law, said Jeffrey Harris, president of the American College of Physicians in a written statement. -- by Jennifer Lubell