Jeremy Alford

Boustany, Melancon stick it to Bush

by Jeremy Alford

As Gov. Bobby Jindal is fighting the Louisiana Legislature’s efforts to push him into a veto override session, President Bush is still reeling from Congress’ decision to reverse one of his vetoes earlier this week. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 became law on Tuesday when both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to override Bush's veto.

As a result, Medicare patients in need of mental health services will pay lower insurance payments and enjoy what should be improved access to certain prescription medicines. The act also protects senior citizens in rural areas by allowing them to continue seeing the same physician. It also prevents the pending 10 percent payment reduction for physicians in Medicare – meaning docs will not be losing any money.

The House voted 383-41 to stand against Bush. Aside from the minimal press coverage the vote received this week, among the biggest stunners locally was the shared aye votes of Acadiana’s two congressmen. Both Charlie Melancon, a Democrat from Napoleonville, and Charles Boustany, a Republican from Lafayette, stood against President Bush.

Melancon, for his part, was toeing the party line. Boustany, meanwhile, no doubt pulled from his experience as a physician to make his own decision. Reps. Rodney Alexander, a Quitman Republican; Bill Jefferson, a New Orleans Democrat; and Don Cazayoux, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, also voted in favor of the override. The lone nay votes belonged to freshman Rep. Steve Scalise of Metairie and retiring Rep. Jim McCrery. Both are Republicans.