Congress Rebuffs Bush Medicare Veto, Postponing Drug Price Revision

July 17, 2008

Congress has overridden President Bush’s veto of a Medicare bill that postpones revisions of the average manufacturer price (AMP) of drugs and includes eprescribing provisions.
Bush objected to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 because it would take away private health plan options from beneficiaries, weaken the Medicare prescription drug program and endanger Medicare’s fiscal security.

Congress disagreed, overriding the veto by a vote of 383–41 in the House and 70–26 in the Senate. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and introduced in the House June 20.

In his veto message, Bush said some of the provisions in the bill “would enable the expansion of ‘protected classes’ of drugs [that] would effectively end meaningful price negotiations between Medicare prescription drug plans and pharmaceutical manufacturers for drugs in those classes.” This expansion would lead to increased beneficiary premiums and co-payments along with higher drug prices and lower rebates, Bush added. 

Despite Bush’s concerns, interest groups were quick to praise the veto override. The American Pharmacists Association applauded the bill’s requirement for prompt payment of Part D claims and a weekly update of Medicare prescription drug pricing.

Generic Pharmaceutical Association President and CEO Kathleen Jaeger also praised the bill, which postpones cuts in the AMP and delays publication of AMP data until Oct. 1, 2009.