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Indiana State Medical Association and AARP Urge Reconsideration of Bill to Protect Seniors' Access to Doctors and Improve Medicare
Date:7/2/2008

INDIANAPOLIS, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gridlock has paralyzed the U.S. Senate, derailing a critical bipartisan bill that would have kept Medicare premiums fair, stopped a 10.6 percent rate cut to physicians who treat Medicare patients, and made significant improvements to a program that 44 million Americans depend on.

Last week, Sen. Richard Lugar joined a minority of senators in voting to block legislation that would have given people on Medicare continued access to their doctors and improved benefits for the most vulnerable - while boosting health care quality through national electronic prescribing.

The Senate vote on the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) was purposely scheduled for June 26 so it would become law before the cuts to doctor reimbursement took effect July 1.

Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill. In a procedural move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed his vote to "no" so that he could call the bill up at a future date. Therefore, the measure fell just one vote short of being adopted. "Sen. Lugar could have made a big difference," said Jon Marhenke, M.D., president of the Indiana State Medical Association.

Earlier in the week, the House of Representatives voted to preserve access to care for Medicare patients in a bipartisan landslide vote, passing H.R. 6331 by an overwhelming margin of 355-59. The House made seniors, the disabled and military families a top priority.

"We are deeply troubled that Sen. Lugar voted to block a bill with bipartisan support that would have preserved patients' access to their doctors and improved Medicare for the 44 million Americans who depend on it," said June Lyle, AARP Indiana state director. "We urge Sen. Lugar to listen to his constituents and reconsider his vote when the bill comes up again after the congressional recess."

"Because of Sen. Lugar's vote, the Senate went home for the July 4th recess lea
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SOURCE AARP Indiana
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