11 January 2011

Seniors Lead Fight Against Health Care Repeal

As Republicans Try to Repeal Health Care Law, New Benefits for Seniors Kick In

House Republicans are wasting no time trying to repeal health care reform. The new Congress convened last Wednesday, and the House Rules Committee met on Thursday to report a rule to repeal the health care law. The full House voted Friday, 236-181, largely along party lines, to move ahead to next week's final vote, which is scheduled for Wednesday, January 12.  Due to the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, that vote has been moved to next week.

The plan to repeal the health care reform law would increase the deficit by $230 billion by 2021, according to a preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Because of the law, many important, positive changes to Medicare - such as free preventive screenings - went into effect on January 1. Those benefits, as well as a 50% discount for brand name drugs and 7% off generics for beneficiaries in the Part D doughnut hole, would disappear if the repeal were to become law. The doughnut hole is set to close entirely by 2020, but a repeal would change that. In addition, subsidies for early retiree health care would disappear. The 2010 law also extends the solvency of Medicare by 12 years. To see the Alliance for Retired Americans fact sheet on 2011 Medicare changes, go HERE

It is expected that nearly all or all House Republicans will vote for the repeal legislation, H.R. 2, next week. However, Senate Democrats and grassroots organizations are pushing back. On Monday, the Senate Democratic Leadership – Sens. Harry Reid (NV), Dick Durbin (IL), Patty Murray (WA), Charles Schumer (NY) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) - wrote then soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and told him that repeal of health care reform will not occur in the Senate.

The five Senate Democratic leaders asked the Ohio Republican in the letter to preserve the health care law or risk leaving seniors without expanded insurance coverage for prescription drugs that the law provides. In addition, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of 65 senior organizations, including the Alliance, sent a letter to all members of the House on Wednesday night urging a vote against repeal; to view that, go HERE.

 “Repeal would hurt retirees immediately,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “It would be a giant step backwards given all of the problems that were addressed by the 2010 health reform law.”



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