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President Vetoes Medicare Legislation – Congress To Vote on Overriding Veto

July 15, 2008

President Bush today vetoed a major package of Medicare reforms.  The House and Senate are expected to vote on overriding the veto later this week.  This Medicare package (HR 6331) contains critical protections and improvements for beneficiaries living with mental illness and represents an historic opportunity to address long overdue reforms.


Contact Congress today and urge them to support overriding the President’s veto of HR 6331. All Senate and House offices can be reached by calling 202-224-3121.  

Remind your Senators and House members of the critical beneficiary protections and improvements in HR 6331, including:

  • Parity for cost sharing for outpatient mental health services under Part B, gradually moving the current discriminatory 50% requirement down to 20% between 2010 and 2014,
  • Statutory authority under the Part D drug benefit for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure broad coverage on prescription drug plan formularies for antipsychotics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants,
  • Removal of the current ban on Part D plans offering coverage for benzodiazepines (a critical tool in treatment for acute mania in bipolar disorder and severe anxiety disorders),
  • Changes to eligibility for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program (also known as "Extra Help") – These reforms include an increase the amount of allowable resources, elimination of barriers to enrollment and the current late enrollment penalty and new exemptions for the value of a life insurance policy and in-kind support and maintenance.  Eligibility for the LIS significantly lowers and premiums and cost sharing for drug coverage and exempts beneficiaries from the "doughnut hole" coverage gap.

White House Objects to Broad Formulary Guidance

As part of its justification for vetoing the Medicare package, the Administration has singled out a provision codifying existing policy that requires Part D prescription drug plans to include "all or substantially all" of the medications in six protected therapeutic classes, including anti-psychotics, antidepressants and anti-convulsants. Advocates are urged to mention the importance of this provision when contacting their Senators and House member.