Democrats Say U.S. ‘Better Off’ Because of Health Reform Law
Top Democrats and other party luminaries continued to embrace and promote the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday during the second day of the Democratic National Convention, using the law to back their argument that the U.S. is "better off" today than it was four years ago, Modern Healthcare reports (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 9/5).
Throughout the day, Democrats who played key roles in national health policy and the health reform debate -- including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), former White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle and former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher -- spoke at various events in support of the ACA's provisions that already have been implemented (Pittman, MedPage Today, 9/5).
According to Modern Healthcare, Democrats are attempting to illustrate that U.S. residents today "at least have better health care than they did before" the ACA was enacted more than two years ago and that the law is a political asset for President Obama's reelection campaign (Modern Healthcare, 9/5).
President Clinton Defends Health Reform Law in Nomination Speech
In a speech that served as the formal nomination of Obama, former President Clinton defended the health reform law and directly responded to Republican criticism of the ACA, including refuting a claim by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), that $716 billion will be cut from Medicare under the law, Modern Healthcare reports (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 9/6).
Clinton said that when Ryan -- during his speech at the Republican National Convention last week -- "looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama's 'biggest, coldest power play' in raiding Medicare, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry" (Maraniss, Washington Post, 9/6). He added, "Here's what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What [Obama] did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren't making people any healthier."
Clinton noted that the ACA will use those cuts and savings to close the coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare drug benefit and extend by eight years, to 2024, the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. "So President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened it," he added (Modern Healthcare 9/6).
Clinton said that Ryan's House-approved budget proposal includes the same amount of cuts and savings as the Medicare plan under the ACA, adding, "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did." He concluded, "So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are" (Meckler/Lee, Wall Street Journal, 9/6).
Pelosi Discusses Medicare, Women's Health
In a speech preceding Clinton, Pelosi told convention attendees that their votes in November will be votes to preserve Medicare and support women's rights, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports. She added, "Democrats will preserve and strengthen Medicare. Republicans will end the Medicare guarantee" (Kasperowicz, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 9/5). "Democrats trust the judgment of women" and "reject the Republican assault on women's reproductive health," she added (Sherman, Politico, 9/5).
Reproductive-Rights Activist Fluke Speaks on Women's Health
In a speech that drew primetime coverage, reproductive-rights activist Sandra Fluke emphasized women's health issues and criticized the Republican Party's positions on the issues, Reuters reports (Zengerle, Reuters, 9/6).
Fluke received national attention earlier this year after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" for speaking out in favor of the federal contraceptive coverage rules (Khan, National Journal, 9/5).
During her speech, Fluke said reproductive rights would be threatened under a Republican administration (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 9/5). She also warned of a situation in which women's "access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it" (DeLong, "Election 2012 Blog," Washington Post, 9/5).
Democratic Platform Defends ACA; Vague on Future Steps
In their party platform released on Tuesday, Democrats defended the ACA and reiterated their commitment to continue "moving forward" on issues related to health care, but the blueprint is short on the specifics of what the party plans to do, CQ Today reports.
Democrats said the ACA will help strengthen Medicare and improve the quality of care for beneficiaries, adding that the party will "build on those reforms, not eliminate Medicare's guarantees." The platform also promotes the law's benefit provisions and emphasizes Democrats' role in improving women's health. However, it suggests that "[m]ore is to come" as the implementation of the law continues, CQ Today reports (Norman, CQ Today, 9/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.