This past Thursday (June 10th), Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Steve Regenstreif, DNC Seniors Council Chair & AFSCME Director of Retiree Programs, participated in a conference call with national and regional press in order to explain the benefits that seniors will receive under the new health care law. One of the major benefits that Chairman Kaine emphasized was that seniors who fall into the Medicare Part D donut hole coverage gap are currently in the midst of receiving a $250 rebate check to help them afford their perspiration drugs. By the end of the year, some three million seniors are expected to have received a rebate check.
By 2020, Kaine assured, the coverage gap, or “Donut Hole,” will be eradicated, and seniors will no longer have to worry about paying for the entirety of their prescription drug costs. In order to help phase in the elimination of the donut hole, seniors get the rebate checks this year and a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs next year. The new health law also eliminates co-pays for preventive care, guarantees seniors a free check up under Medicare, offers better coordination to prevent readmission to hospitals, and protects seniors against fraud and abuse.
Unfortunately, despite many benefits, Republicans have launched an effort to repeal and replace portions of the enacted law. Regenstreif reminded listeners that, though the health care reform bill has passed Congress, the fight to keep the reforms in place is far from being over. In fact, as Coyle pointed out, the very essence of the call was ironic since many have spent the last couple of years combating the misinformation that the Republicans have been telling seniors about the law and now seniors are the first to receive the tangible benefits of the bill. Regenstreif mentioned that the Republican alternative plan offers no relief to seniors who fall into the donut hole, provides no free check ups to Medicare beneficiaries, and it advocates for a voucher program that will not provide seniors with the quality of care that they deserve.
Despite the concerns over the Republican opposition, Coyle assured the listeners that as seniors continue to pay more attention to the implementation process and continue to receive their benefits, many will start becoming supportive of the bill. Coyle also noted that the repeal strategy is counterintuitive since most polls suggest that Americans want to give the new health care law a chance. While concluding however, Chairman Kaine stated that the DNC is taking the Republican’s repeal effort very seriously and will do all that it can to prevent it in order to protect the critical benefits that the reform bill offers to seniors and all Americans.