Democrats Use First Night of Convention To Tout Health Reform Law
Democrats spent much of the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday promoting the federal health reform law and providing "a full-throated defense" of the overhaul and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law against Republican-led opposition, the New York Times reports.
Various speakers -- including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D), the convention's keynote speaker -- also took the opportunity to criticize the health care plans proposed by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (Rutenberg, New York Times, 9/4).
Michelle Obama, Sebelius Highlight Law's Provisions
First lady Michelle Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius used their speeches to highlight the importance of the Affordable Care Act and some of its popular provisions, Modern Healthcare reports.
In her speech, Michelle Obama said that President Obama enacted the ACA "because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine; our kids should be able to see a doctor when they're sick; and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness" (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 9/4). She added, "Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president," noting that "he cared that it was the right thing to do" (Thompson, "Election 2012 Blog," Washington Post, 9/4).
Sebelius, during her speech, said she is proud of the health reform law and added that the term "ObamaCare," which opponents initially used to criticize the law, is "a badge of honor" for Democrats. She said provisions, such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance policies and providing coverage for preventive services, have garnered broad support from U.S. residents (Haberkorn, Politico, 9/4). Sebelius also noted, "This president made it illegal to discriminate against women" by prohibiting insurers from assessing pregnancy and domestic abuse as pre-existing conditions (Baker , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/4).
Romney-Ryan Plans Draw Criticism
During a dialogue session with the Ohio delegates before her speech, Sebelius criticized the Romney-Ryan budget proposal to overhaul Medicare, adding that it "ends Medicare as we know it," The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. She noted that under the proposal to transform Medicare into a premium-support program, "[t]here would be no more guaranteed benefits for seniors. There would be guaranteed vouchers" (Baker , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/4).
In his keynote speech, Castro said, "Seven presidents before [Obama] -- Republicans and Democrats -- tried to expand health care to all Americans. President Obama got it done" (FOX News, 9/5). He said the Romney-Ryan budget "doesn't just cut" Medicare and other government programs, "it dismantles it," adding, "When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney says, 'No.'" (NPR, 9/4).
Some Democrats Skip Convention To Avoid Health Reform Issue
In related news, at least 10 House Democrats have declined to attend the DNC over concerns that their positions on the ACA might make them more vulnerable during their re-election bids, according to a report from the National Republican Campaign Committee, Politico reports.
Among the 10 incumbents are lawmakers who voted against the ACA or have supported GOP efforts to repeal it. According to Politico, their absence in Charlotte could be a counterpoint to the message by Democrats supporting the health reform law (Kenen, Politico, 9/4).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.