The Washington Times - July 15, 2008, 03:50PM

UPDATE - 6:53 P.M. - The House and Senate both voted this afternoon to override the president’s veto. The House voted 383 to 41 in favor of an override, and the Senate voted 70 to 26 the same way.



President Bush vetoed the Medicare bill on Tuesday, saying it would “undermine” the prescription drug program passed in 2003 and calling the bill “fiscally irresponsible.”

It is the 12th veto by Mr. Bush during his two terms in office.

The Democratic-controlled Congress is expected to override the veto, which would be the fourth time they have done so.

Here are the three reasons cited for the veto in Mr. Bush’s message to the House:

“It would harm beneficiaries by taking private health plan options away from them; already more than 9.6 million beneficiaries, many of whom are considered lower-income, have chosen to join a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, and it is estimated that this bill would decrease MA enrollment by about 2.3 million individuals in 2013 relative to the program’s current baseline.”

“It would undermine the Medicare prescription drug program, which today is effectively providing coverage to 32 million beneficiaries directly through competitive private plans or through Medicare-subsidized retirement plans.”

“It is fiscally irresponsible, and it would imperil the long-term fiscal soundness of Medicare by using short-term budget gimmicks that do not solve the problem; the result would be a steep and unrealistic payment cut for physicians — roughly 20 percent in 2010 — likely leading to yet another expensive temporary fix; and the bill would also perpetuate wasteful overpayments to medical equipment suppliers.”