NU Online News Service, June 28, 12:07 p.m. – The U.S. House of Representatives voted 221-208 earlier today to pass H.R. 4954, the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-New Britain, Conn., and backed by the Bush administration, would add a voluntary prescription drug benefit program to Medicare.

The bill would also increase Medicare reimbursement rates for some doctors and hospitals. Many hospitals have complained that current Medicare reimbursement limits are forcing them to treat Medicare patients at a loss and make up the difference by charging higher rates for patients with private health insurance.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to consider an alternative bill that would provide more cash for the Medicare prescription program in July.

Only eight Republicans voted against H.R. 4954, and only eight Democrats voted for it.

The House has published the results of the vote at http://clerkweb.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2002&rollnumber=282

The Library of Congress has posted links to the text of the bill and other information at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:h.r.04954: