Sebelius To Seniors: 'Outrageous Claims' Clouding Impressions Of New Health Law

The Associated Press: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went to Florida Friday to rally support for the new health law. She targeted senior citizens, a crucial voting bloc that polls find is not warming to the bill. "Speaking to a gathering of AARP members, Sebelius acknowledged confusion remained over the law, in part motivated by Republican claims that it would usher in socialism, ration care and forbid patients from continuing to see their own doctors. She emphasized improvements brought by the law, including the gradual closure of the Medicare prescription drug 'doughnut hole,' a change widely heralded by seniors."

"Sebelius railed against misinformation spread about the law, but said concerns would ease as its measures came into effect." She didn't take questions and shortly after she left "audience members were invited to ask AARP experts questions about the law, which the 40-million-member group endorsed. The first man to approach the microphone asked about death panels" (Sedensky, 10/1).

The Hill: In her speech, "Sebelius conceded that the sweeping reforms are a great deal to digest, but she blamed much of the public's confusion on the misleading statements of Republicans through the initial debate and now on the campaign trail. The many consumer benefits under the law, she added, have often been overshadowed." She told the audience: "With so much else on Americans' minds and a 24-hour news cycle that gets louder every day, it's been hard for those very facts to break through. The reality of what's in the law begins to collide with some of the outrageous claims that people have been making." (Lillis, 10/1).

Also targeted to seniors, The New York Times offers a story explaining some of the important factors for Medicare beneficiaries to consider this year because more options are available and the system is changing quickly. "'It's a complicated year for Medicare beneficiaries,' said Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonprofit group that helps Medicare beneficiaries. ... Make sure the plan is still the best one for you, especially if you’ve experienced big changes in your health or financial situation. Enrollment this year begins on Nov. 15 and lasts through the end of the year" (Konrad, 10/1).

Related KHN story: Americans Still Confused, Divided About Health Law (Verdon, 9/27)

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