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Sunday, August 02, 2009


This is the link to the Healthcare Reform Legislation, have you looked at it?

A few of you have requested information to combat disinformation about
health reform. A nonpartisan source for checking myths and facts on
health reform is - a project of the Annenberg Public
Policy Center. The White House's sources for information are: and

NASUA participated in the first of two conference calls with the White
House. The call was convened on Wednesday, August 19, for "consumers
and seniors working on health care in the field." NASUA will announce
the second call to NASUA members so they can participate, which is
expected to occur in a couple of weeks.

The following is a snapshot of some of the information conveyed in the
call. This is not a NASUA analysis.

White House Call on Health Reform Myths & Facts

The call focused on how health reform supports can talk about health
care reform with seniors. White House staff said the focus should be on
what is wrong with the current system and suggested using anecdotes. On
the call were national groups representing seniors and retirees.
Representing the White House were:

* Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public Engagement

* Mike Hash, Senior Advisory with the White House Office of
Health Reform

* David Simas, White House Communication Office

Policy Update

Mike Hash gave a quick overview of what was going on in Congress citing
"tremendous progress." Four out of the five committees of jurisdiction
have reported a bill to the full chamber, and the remaining committee -
Senate Finance - continues to work through August. Their goal is still
a bipartisan agreement by Sept. 15, 2009. Once the House merges it's
three bills and the Senate merges its two, the full chambers will each
vote on their respective health reform product and a conference
committee will work to make the two bills into one final package for
final passage in both chambers.

The following are some of the highlights from his overview of the core
pieces common to all health reform legislation:

1. Insurance Market Reforms: health reform proposals do way with
current practices that make coverage cost prohibitive or exclude people
for having preexisting conditions. They also prohibit dollar limits or
lifetime benefit limits.

2. New Market Place: The "exchange" is a place that will be
developed for one stop shopping for health insurance that is easy to
understand and includes only plans with essential benefits that cap out
of pocket costs.

3. Public Option: The public option will be one publicly run
insurance plan aimed at keeping insurance companies honest, driving
competition that is fair and bringing down prices.

4. Lower-wage Worker Subsidies: Lower income workers will be
given subsidies to purchase health insurance.

5. Mandates on Employers & Individuals: Both will be mandated to
provide or purchase coverage.

6. Expansion of Medicaid eligibility: Generally, the bills raise
eligibility to 133% of FPL.

7. Delivery System Reforms: Changes to improve the quality of
care and efficiency include medical homes for providers, and bundling of

For Seniors Specifically:

1. Medicare Coverage for Preventive Benefits: Preventive benefits
under Medicare will require no deductible or coinsurance. They will be

2. Reinsurance for Retirees: Encourages employers to maintain
retiree coverage.

3. Medicare Drug Benefit: Those who reach the "donut hole" will
get a discount of 50% off their drugs.

4. Generic Biological Drug Pathway: This will lower costs in the
long run for seniors.

5. CLASS Act: New national long term care insurance plan for

Combating Fears:

* Health reform is NOT "government takeover" that takes away

* You have Medicare now and you will continue to have it because
health reform will strengthen the long term solvency of Medicare with
health insurance reform.

* "Cutting" of Medicare is primarily in Medicare Advantage
overpayments to insurance companies' "windfall profits."


How will you prove people who receive benefits are legal?

* People in the country illegally will not be eligible for
benefits in health reform. The bills don't detail the process for
implementation. That mechanism will be provided later.

Why will employers keep offering plans?

* Employers will be mandated to pay for coverage for employees
(with some exceptions for small businesses). Those who opt out will pay
into the exchange.

Questions for the White House can be directed to:

Senate Finance Committee Update - nothing new...

According to Politico, the six bipartisan Finance Committee Senators
(Sens. Grassley, Enzi, Snowe, Conrad, Baucus and Bingaman) convened an
hour and a half long conference call last night to continue discussions.
Chairman Baucus released a statement at midnight last night:

"Tonight was a productive conversation -- we discussed our progress and
remain committed to continuing our path toward a bipartisan health care
reform bill. Our discussion included an increased emphasis on
affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will
reflect that focus. We have come a long way, will continue our work
throughout August and plan to meet again before the Senate returns in

Look for more news in the upcoming NASUA Newsletter. If you have any
questions, please contact:

Peggie Rice

Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs

National Association of State Units on Aging

1201 15th Street NW, Suite 350

Washington, DC 20005

P: 202.898.2578 ext. 139

F: 202.898.2583