Senate Passes Medicare Bill

WASHINGTON, July 9 - The Senate today voted 69 to 30 to end a filibuster and avert a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments for doctors who care for millions of older Americans.

Overcoming opposition from the insurance industry, HMOs and the Bush administration, the Senate stopped a sharp reduction in reimbursement rates that was due to go into effect later this month.

"The Senate put the interests of 44 million American seniors covered by Medicare and the doctors who care for them over the interests of the insurance industry," Sanders said.

The measure also boosts reimbursements for Federally Qualified Health Centers that play a critical role in providing cost-effective primary health care and dental services to more than 86,000 Vermonters. Sanders has been a leading proponent of the health centers that he hopes to see in every county in Vermont.

The Senate vote reversed the outcome of one week ago when an effort to pass the same bill fell short. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate health committee, was greeted by cheers when he walked onto the Senate floor to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with cancer in May.

The House earlier approved the legislation by a vote of 355 to 59.