Senators, with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy casting a crucial vote, approved legislation Wednesday that would void a 10.6 percent pay cut for doctors treating Medicare patients.
The House already has overwhelmingly approved the measure, but a Senate vote two weeks ago fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate. Kennedy, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer, was not present then.
The bill, backed by Democrats and some Republicans, would take the cuts out of federal payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurers as alternatives to the traditional government-run Medicare plans for senior citizens. The House voted overwhelmingly to restore the cuts last week.
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