Last week’s Medicare votes gave Congress and the President a simple choice: strengthen the Medicare program for seniors and their physicians or support billions in wasteful subsidies the health insurance industry has lobbied hard to protect. Ultimately, even those who’ve supported the billions of dollars of wasteful subsidies to private Medicare Advantage insurers for years realized this was a very important vote to seniors, doctors and their families.

While the major goal was to block scheduled cut in fees to doctors in Medicare there were many other important provisions, which didn’t get as much attention, yet will affect millions of seniors on Medicare, such as:

  • Provides lower out-of-pocket costs for mental health services

  • Offers new preventive benefits to Medicare beneficiaries

  • Some widely used anti-anxiety and sleep drugs will be added to Part D coverage

  • Increases funding for low income beneficiaries and extends the program
    until December, 2009

  • Eliminates the Part D enrollment penalty for low income seniors

  • Provides incentives to doctors to encourage electronic prescribing

  • For more details, here’s our summary of The Medicare Improvements For Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA).