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July 15, 2008

SENATE VOTES TO OVERRIDE BUSH VETO ON MEDICARE

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today commented on the Senate vote to override President Bush's veto of the Medicare bill. Since 2002, Congress has acted annually to prevent reimbursement cuts, ensuring that physicians continue to get reimbursement for treating Medicare patients.  Each time, Senator Inhofe has voted to prevent cuts to physician reimbursements. Further, as a member of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, Senator Inhofe has long worked to ensure Oklahomans and rural America receives the best possible health care.

"I am proud of my consistent record voting to ensure that physicians continue to get reimbursement for treating Medicare patients," Senator Inhofe said. "Congress has acted every year since 2002 to prevent reimbursement cuts, and each time, I have voted to prevent these cuts. Yet, though I strongly support preventing these reimbursement cuts, and always have, there were simply too many major concerns left unresolved in this bill.
                                                                                                                                                                                          
"One of the most disappointing aspects of this bill was the breakdown of a genuine bi-partisan solution. Rather than the two parties coming together from the start and working across the aisle to ensure a victory for all Americans, a decision was made to use this issue for partisan gain. When election-year politics trumps sound policy, it's the American public who pay the price.

"I have repeatedly expressed disappointment about severe cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program, in which almost 75,000 Oklahomans are enrolled. The $14 billion cuts to this program imposed by this legislation over the next ten years will hit seniors in rural areas the hardest.
 
"Further, as a member of the Senate Rural Health Caucus, I fought to ensure Oklahomans and rural America receives the best possible health care. To improve this bill, I fought to include provisions for ambulance payments in rural areas supported by local ambulance service providers in Oklahoma, additional payments for rural home health services, and support for our rural hospitals, such as clinical diagnostic lab services and skilled nursing care at our critical access hospitals.
 
"While I fought hard to get more done for Oklahoma doctors and Medicare recipients, I am glad to see that the bill continues funding for the Special Diabetes Programs requested by the Oklahoma Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, continues outpatient physical therapy funding under Medicare, and expands the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) grant program, which provides support for Critical Access Hospitals that care predominately for rural areas.

"As in every election year, a lot of political rhetoric is thrown around in an attempt to confuse voters. Let me set the record straight. I am proud of my long record of support of physicians continuing to get reimbursement for treating Medicare patients. I could not in good faith support a bill that I didn't believe did enough for Medicare Recipients and doctors in Oklahoma and I cast my vote against the override."


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