Dems Continue Push To Sell Health Reform's Benefits, GOP Pushes Back

The administration has struggled to sell senior citizens on the new health law, Politico reports. Here's why: "They know little about the early benefits the law has offered but remember last year's heated town halls, replete with death panels and rationing. And anti-health-reform rhetoric is generally proving to have considerable staying power."

"Democrats who have dealt with that challenge firsthand include Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. He recently wrote an editorial for a local paper on the benefits of health reform, noting it 'will reduce the deficit not by reducing benefits but by reducing the growth in Medicare spending by doing such things as cutting overpayments to Medicare Advantage.' But when asked whether he thinks he can get seniors to like the new law — especially after his state’s airwaves were inundated with anti-reform messages for the better part of a year, Nelson was not optimistic" (Kliff, 8/10). 

The Palm Beach Post: "With polls across the country showing that seniors have misgivings about what health reform might mean for their Medicare benefits, Democrats took their case to the friendliest possible audience on Monday." At the local Kings Point Democratic Club, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., told members that the overhaul would help secure Medicare's future, and expand services (Singer, 8/9).

Politico, in a separate story: Meanwhile, opponents of the overhaul continue to pour resources into the campaign coffers of GOP challengers. "A Las Vegas activist suing the United States over the health care reform law is tapping a deep-pocketed network of gamblers and Nevada businessmen to funnel tens of thousands of dollars to Republican congressional candidates. Tony Dane, who runs a robocalling firm and helped GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle get elected to the state assembly, is the force behind PeopleV.US, a group organizing a class-action lawsuit that will be filed this week in Nevada… But the group wants more than one branch of government to take on the health law: It plans to endorse five Republican candidates who will pledge to repeal it" (Hunt, 8/9).

News outlets covered health overhaul policy provisions related to Medicare patients and others.

Kaiser Health News: Another benefit is built into the law for Medicare recipients: "Starting in January ... Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive for free all preventive services and screenings that receive an A or B recommendation for seniors from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That includes mammograms and colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and nutritional counseling for people at risk for diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes" (Andrews, 8/10).

Charlotte Observer: "Starting next month, one of the first big initiatives of the new federal health care law takes effect: Families can start insuring their young adult children under their employer plans. Before the changes, most young people were booted off their parents' plans when they hit 19, unless they remained full-time students. Now they can stay on - or rejoin - and stay covered until they turn 26" (Chan, 8/9).

The Hill: Also among the health benefits to patients, "[s]tate Medicaid programs will soon have much greater leeway to treat patients in home- and community-based settings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reminded state officials Monday. The changes — included in the Democrats' new healthcare-reform law — will allow states to expand the home- and community-based services (HCBS) they offer, while also extending eligibility to higher income folks" (Lillis, 8/9).

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