Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate voted to overwhelmingly override President Bush’s veto of the Medicare doctor’s fix, thus reversing payment cuts for doctors and improving care for patients. The House also overrode the President’s veto earlier today.
“Congress today did its part to make sure the President’s stubborn opposition to the millions of American seniors and veterans who rely on Medicare does not stand. Refusing to respect the will of the American people or its elected representatives, the President vetoed a bipartisan bill passed overwhelmingly by both houses. We wasted no time in reversing the President’s carelessness and protecting our nation’s doctors and the patients they treat – and this responsible and overdue Medicare fix is now law.
“It may have taken just one flourish of a pen to affix the name ‘Lyndon Baines Johnson’ to the law that created Medicare in 1965. But that one pen stroke created a program that has come to reflect a bedrock American principle: that all those seniors who have worked hard – and all those who need a helping hand – will find themselves embraced by the care of our compassionate nation.
“And though Medicare was created by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, that principle has always been anchored far too deep in our soil for the roots of partisanship to entangle. When the program has been threatened, Democrats and Republicans have risen to the occasion to protect it.
“So it was last month, when the House of Representatives approved the ‘doctor’s fix’ by an overwhelming vote of 355-59. So it was last week, when Senator Kennedy led a veto-proof majority of all Democrats and 18 Republicans voting yes. So it was earlier today, when the House voted to override President Bush’s veto, 383-41. So it must be now, as we follow suit to reject the veto and place this legislation into law.
“On the July day in 1965 when President Johnson signed the original Medicare bill, he said this:
‘Just think, because of this document – and the long years of struggle which so many have put into creating it – in this town, and a thousand other towns like it, there are men and women in pain who will now find ease.
‘There are those, alone in suffering who will now hear the sound of some approaching footsteps coming to help.
‘There are those fearing the terrible darkness of despairing poverty – despite their long years of labor and expectation – who will now look up to see the light of hope and realization.’
“Since the day President Johnson handed the very first Medicare card to President Truman, hundreds of millions of senior citizens and people with disabilities have received their own card. Each new card issued strengthens our commitment to the health and well-being of our most vulnerable. Now it is our turn to do our part – to renew the light of hope for those who need our help the most.”