Politics And Health Reform: Democrats, Republicans Trying To Sway Seniors
The Associated Press: Democrats, "running scared in an election year," are hopeful that a $250 check - to help seniors afford prescription drugs - will turn the tide of public opinion. "Democrats ... are trying to overcome older people's mistrust of the new health care law, which expands coverage for younger generations by cutting Medicare payments to hospitals and insurers. Behind the hoopla, the reality is modest. The $250 check, for example, is just a fraction of what many people in the prescription coverage gap have to pay. The gap starts after Medicare beneficiaries and their insurance plan have spent $2,830 on medications. Once total spending reaches $6,440, Medicare's catastrophic coverage kicks in, and people pay only a small amount. That means the 'doughnut hole' is $3,610 this year. ... . A previous Congress, led by Republicans, came up with the idea to control costs. It's never been popular" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/16).
The Hill reports that administration is acting on other fronts: "Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president for special projects, took to the White House blog Friday to lambaste Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program. 'Under the Ryan plan, the Medicare seniors know and trust would disappear,' Cutter writes. 'In its place, seniors would receive a voucher to buy insurance on the private market.' Ryan argues that the current system, even taking into account the healthcare reform law, is 'on course to collapse'" (Pecquet, 8/14).
In the meantime, outside groups are hoping to bolster Democrats' political fortunes.
Roll Call: "Americans United for Change is dispatching staff and resources to battleground states in what appears to be a shoestring effort to paint Republicans as seeking to destroy Social Security and Medicare. To prove their claims that Republicans are targeting Social Security and Medicare, Democrats and activist groups like the AUFC cite Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's 'Roadmap for America's Future,' which proposes to overhaul the two programs to ensure they remain solvent without eating up more of the federal budget. ... Republicans contend that Democrats are trying to scare voters" (Drucker, 8/14).
The Seattle Times: In addition, advocacy groups are protesting the presence of lobbyists at the gathering this week of state insurance regulators. "Health-care-reform activists sported surgical gowns and masks as they chanted and handed out packets that offered to 'disinfect' the gathering from a 'lobbyist pandemic.' The packets included soap, a hand wipe, a clothespin and a face mask to protect against 'lobbyist lies ... lobbyist germs ... and lobbyist stench' - underscoring that emotions over health-care reform haven't entirely subsided since President Obama signed a historic reform law in March. The protest was organized by Washington state Health Care for America Now" (Ervin, 8/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.