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Medicare bill heads to White House

Executive Summary

President Bush's plan to veto legislation, H.R. 6331, intended to stave off cuts in Medicare physician rates is motivated primarily by provisions to make up for those cuts with reductions in payments to Medicare Advantage plans, White House officials indicated during a July 10 press briefing. Still intact in H.R. 6331 are a number of provisions in the drug area, including Medicare payment incentives for physicians to use electronic prescribing; bundled payments for dialysis-related services, including drugs; Medicare coverage of benzodiazepines; permanence of Medicare Part D coverage of all or substantially all drugs in six classes, and suspension of Medicaid average manufacturer price rules. The Senate passed the measure July 9 by what, if it holds, is a veto-proof 69-30 margin. It is identical to the version that passed the House 355-59 on June 24 (1"The Pink Sheet," June 30, 2008, p. 23)

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