Congress passes Medicare bill

Seniors depend on Medicare for their health insurance after age 65.  Archaic legislation would have decreased the Medicare reimbursement rates for senior's medical services by 10.6%.  This would have meant some medical doctors would opt to not accept senior clients as they could better cover their costs by focusing on clients who could pay their rates.  This especially becomes a problem in smaller population areas where there is already a shortage of medical doctors, leaving the elderly population needing to travel further for medical care.

Although President Bush says he will block the bill with a veto (since he doesn't need to worry about being re-elected), Congress has enough votes on the bill to over-ride his veto.  A few Republicans joined the "Yes" vote after Senator Ted Kennedy (also a senior) took a break from his chemotherapy treatments to fly to Washington, D.C. to break the dead-lock.

I have always thought it was interesting that Medicare will only pay to "rent" a manual wheelchair for a senior but if the qualifications are right, they will buy a power wheelchair for the senior  -  and pay what I have heard is as much as 4 times over the wholesale price for these power wheelchairs (you may remember the Scooter Store had hired their own "doctors" to write up medical authorizations for seniors to qualify for a scooter since Medicare was paying and they had no problem buying Infomercials to advertise this to seniors.  They also apparently hired telemarketers to tell seniors they could only qualify for certain expensive power wheelchairs through Medicare).  When the U.S. Justice Dept. filed suit against the Scooter Store in 2005, they had already billed Medicare for $400 million since 1997.

I am all for making a profit for providing a service that is of value, but I don't believe the government should be willing to foolishly over-spend on certain elder-care products and then be unable to pay for necessary senior services at a fair market rate.

Perhaps a new President will be able to help guide Medicare in a better direction as the voting population ages. And at least we know most most first-term Presidents want to be re-elected and should pay attention to the voice of seniors.

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