GOP Unveils Latest Salvo In Health Reform Battle: Seniors’ Bill Of Rights
Republicans unveiled what they've termed the "Health Care Bill of Right for Seniors" Monday in an attempt to tailor their messages to the elderly, The Washington Post reports.
"The Republican National Committee's 'bill of rights' includes calls to 'protect Medicare,' 'prohibit efforts to ration health care based on age' and 'ensure seniors can keep their current coverage.' The list does not represent an actual reform proposal -- congressional GOP leaders have not introduced a plan of their own -- but rather a series of things Republicans think reform should not do."
Michael Steele, RNC chairman, said in an opinion piece Monday in The Washington Post that Republicans have a "contract with seniors" to protect them (Pershing, 8/25).
The Christian Science Monitor: "Senior citizens 'are less likely to see themselves helped' by the healthcare reform proposals of the Obama administration and Congress, concludes a Kaiser (Family Foundation) analysis of its tracking-poll data. In this context of uncertainty, the GOP appears to see opportunity" (Grier, 8/24).
The Associated Press: "The GOP principles also include preventing government from 'interfering with end-of-life care discussions.' That is a reference to a provision in a bill by House Democrats that would allow Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling sessions about living wills and other issues" (8/24).
The Wall Street Journal: "The Republican statement highlights an irony in the health debate, as illustrated during some of the emotional town-hall meetings this month: Many Americans say they fear a government takeover of health care, even as they resist any cuts to Medicare, the federal government's largest health program. Tensions are evident within the Republican Party over its posture in the health-care debate. Some conservative commentators are proposing steps to contain health-care costs that center on 'consumer-directed' policies, including requiring people to pay for routine care out of their own pockets to encourage comparison shopping. But others in the party oppose making specific proposals now, arguing that the better strategy is to oppose what Democrats are putting forward" (King, 8/25).
The San Francisco Chronicle: "Firing back, the Democratic National Committee accused Republicans of using 'this feigned interest in Medicare' to scare seniors for the purpose of shooting down reform to gain political advantage. The AARP, which has yet to take a stand on any of the health reform plans being debated in Congress, released a statement Monday saying nothing in the proposals 'would bring about the scenarios the RNC is concerned about.' The House version of health care reform proposes cutting $538.5 billion from Medicare and Medicaid programs over the next 10 years, but promises to reinvest $320 billion into the program at the same time, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation" (Colliver, 8/25).
In the meantime, The New York Times reports that reform is moving previously unconcerned, politically unmotivated people to weigh in: "Until Thursday evening, nothing in Bob Collier's 62 years had stirred in him the slightest desire to take a stand - about anything - in public. But on Thursday, Mr. Collier drove more than an hour down Route 19 to attend a health care forum in Albany, Ga., being held by his congressman, Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Democrat serving his ninth term. To his wife's astonishment, as the session drew into its third hour, Mr. Collier rose to take the microphone and firmly, but courteously, urged Mr. Bishop to oppose the health care legislation being written in Washington" (Sack, 8/24).