Clarification on the Senate Cloture Vote on H.R. 6331

The cloture vote on H.R. 6331that passed today by 69-30 means that based on a ruling, the actual bill itself did pass (see story below).

H.R. 6331, The Medicare "doc fix" includes:

  • Language to delay the competitive bidding program for 18 months
  • Repeal the title transfer of oxygen
  • A permanent exemption for Complex Rehabilitation Power Wheelchairs (Group 3 and above) and related accessories from the Competitive Bidding Program

Additionally, the doc fix preserves the first-month purchase option for power mobility devices.

The bill will now go to the President where he will have ten days to sign it into law. If in the ten days he does not sign the bill, the bill will automatically go into law. If, however, the President vetoes the bill, the Senate will have to vote to overturn the veto. To overturn of the President’s veto the Senate will need 2/3 of the votes in favor of the bill, which was accomplished today with the 69 votes.

According to Leavitt’s article that was published in the Wall Street Journal, “… ‘Delay’ means ‘kill’….”
While this remains a possibility, keep up the efforts to maintain contact with your legislators. Be sure to call your senators who voted in favor of H.R. 6331 and thank them for supporting the bill. VGM will also provide a list of how the senators voted as it becomes available.

Once again, VGM commends the industry for coming together and making the calls to Congress – proof once again that Grassroots efforts do work!

Kennedy returns to decide Medicare vote
The Hill, By J. Taylor Rushing, 7/9/08

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) returned to the Senate Wednesday to break a stalemate on stalled Medicare legislation, making his first appearance in the chamber since he was diagnosed two months ago with brain cancer.

The 76-year-old senator entered the Senate through the first-floor entrance.

Doctors announced that Kennedy had cancer on May 20 after he was hospitalized. The longtime chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee underwent successful brain surgery at Duke University Medical Center on June 2 and has been undergoing cancer treatments in Massachusetts for the tumor. Kennedy was greeted on the Senate floor by a long, sustained burst of applause from other senators and public visitors watching from the gallery.

“I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens – and that’s to protect Medicare. Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here,” Kennedy said. “I wasn’t going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference.”

His vote on the measure was seen as critical; the Senate fell one vote short of the needed 60 on June 26 when considering the bill that would have prevented a scheduled 10.6 percent cut to physicians who treat Medicare patients.

With Kennedy in the chamber this time to cast the decisive vote, several Republicans flipped and a procedural vote was approved, 69-30. The two party leaders had an agreement to then consider the legislation passed, based on the outcome of the vote.

Wearing a dark suit and a wide grin, Kennedy gave a grand gesture during the Medicare roll-call vote. "Aye," he said, to laughter.

Kennedy looked fine and fit, shaking hands with a crowd of senators. His white hair was largely intact and perhaps even longer than before his absence.