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Medicare Bill Passes Senate; On Way to President for Signature

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In a beginning victory for the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative, the U.S. Senate passed Medicare legislation, H.R. 6331, which will restore funding for clinical social work payments cut in 2007. The vote was 69-30 thanks to the return of Senator Ted Kennedy (MA), whose vote swayed a number of members to create a veto-proof margin. Thank you to everyone who sent letters to your Senators to help ensure passage of this important piece of legislation.

This year’s Medicare package was designed primarily to halt the scheduled 10.6% cut in all Part B provider payment rates. The legislation would postpone the cut for 18 months, beginning July 1, 2008 and increase payments for all providers by 1.1% for 2009, including clinical social workers participating in Part B. In addition to the 1.1% increase in 2009, clinical social workers would receive an increase of 5% (effective July 1, 2008) above those of other providers. In addition, the bill contains a Medicare coinsurance parity provision, reducing beneficiaries’ copayments by 5% per year from 50% in 2009 to 20% in 2014 – at full parity with medical and surgical benefits. This is a crucial legislative goal long sought by NASW.

Reports are that President Bush will veto the bill and urge Senators to not override his veto. Contact President Bush today to urge him to sign this legislation.

Message: I am writing as a constituent, professional social worker, and member of the National Association of Social Workers. I urge you to sign the Medicare Bill (HR. 6331). This bill includes vital improvements to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to high-quality mental health care. The bill is especially important for the Medicare beneficiaries I serve, as it restores funding for clinical social work payments cut in 2007. This cut has placed the Medicare mental health benefit at risk and addressing it must be a top priority in any Medicare legislation this year. I also am pleased the bill finally treats mental health coverage equally with other medical benefits, providing Medicare coinsurance parity and halting the scheduled 10.6% cut for all outpatient provider payments. Please vote to pass H.R. 6331. It will make a real difference for the beneficiaries I serve.Â

For more information on this issue, go to:Â http://capwiz.com/socialworkers/issues/alert/?alertid=11549951

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