WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of overriding the President’s veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Last week we watched as Senator Ted Kennedy returned from treatment for his brain cancer to cast his vote in favor of this vital Medicare bill. I don’t have to tell you how many of us, in both chambers, were so moved to see that lifelong crusader for health care come back to cast one more vote for America’s seniors.
“With that as inspiration, the Senate joined the House in voting—by overwhelming margins—for legislation that would:
• replace a 10.6 percent payment cut for thousands of doctors in Medicare with a 1.1 percent increase;
• extend expiring provisions and bonus payments critical to rural communities and providers;
• expand the preventive services that are available to our seniors;
• phase mental health parity into the Medicare program;
• and improve protections and assistance programs for our low-income seniors.
“Three hundred and fifty-five of us in the House, and 69 in the Senate, stood up for this bill, and I was pleased to see so many Republicans lining up with us. Preventing these Medicare cuts isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It’s an issue of protecting and preserving the health care that over 44 million seniors count on, depend on, and deserve.
“And our message to the President was unambiguous: We will stand with our seniors and our health care providers, our military families and our disabled. And when it comes to protecting and preserving the health care they depend on, we will put aside party politics, and we will stand together.
“Today, President Bush vetoed this legislation. He’ll have to explain to America’s seniors why he was so willing to stand between them and their health care. But, thankfully, we don’t have to take ‘No’ for an answer.
“I urge on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to override this misguided veto. And with their support, this bill for our seniors will become law, with the President’s signature or not.”