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First conservatives used every dirty political trick in the book in their attempt to kill health care reform. They talked falsely of government-run “death panels” and the rationing of coverage.
They tried to shout down lawmakers when they held town meetings last summer and cried “socialism” whenever anyone tried to have an honest discussion about the nation’s patchwork health care system.
It didn’t work: President Obama’s leadership, and that of the leaders in the House and Senate, showed political courage in passing a measure that will go a long way toward providing coverage to 47 million Americans who have none, and help companies large and small that struggle with the high cost of providing health insurance for their workers. Now conservatives -– with an eye toward this fall’s general election -- are trying to scare seniors into believing the health care reform package will somehow hurt their present coverage.
“We know this law is good for seniors and improves their health care,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “From the expansion in Medicare and extending the solvency of that program to protection for early retirees, this law provides significant help for older Americans.”
Here are the facts about the new law's impact on seniors:
Expanded Medicare benefits
• The health care reform law will eliminate the coverage gap in the Medicare Prescription Drug program known as the "donut hole"; it will immediately provide a $250 payment to seniors who fall into this coverage gap and gradually phase out the "donut hole"; it also will provide a 50 percent brand-name drug discount to seniors during this phase-out period.
• The health care reform law will provide preventative care at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries.
A more solvent Medicare program
• The health care reform law will crack down on waste, fraud and abuse under Medicare, and will curtail excessive payments to private insurers under the Medicare program.
• These reforms will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by nine years, helping to preserve this important program for seniors.
Early retiree reinsurance
• The health care reform law will establish a new, early retiree reinsurance program that will help pay for part of the costs incurred by employers and voluntary employee beneficiary associations (VEBAs) in providing health care coverage to early retirees, along with their spouses and dependents. This assistance is designed to encourage employers and VEBAs to continue health care coverage for this vulnerable population.
Americans saw through the massive campaign launched by conservatives about health care reform. That’s why the reform became law. Cheap political tricks aimed at scaring seniors and scoring political points won’t change that.
Here's a timeline for other changes in the health care law.
-- Vince Piscopo