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WA Seniors Applaud Obama as 'Myth-Buster-in-Chief'

September 11, 2009

SEATTLE, Wash. - All eyes will be on the Senate Finance Committee next week, which is expected to act on health reform. And advocates for Washington seniors credit President Obama with playing a key role as 'myth-buster-in-chief' in his joint session to Congress Wednesday night.

AARP Washington advocacy director Ingrid McDonald says Obama was right to challenge myths about so-called death panels, because she says they are simply not mentioned in any version of health reform. She says the president's decision to set the record straight on Medicare is of vital importance to seniors.

"There are myths that health reform will cut or repeal Medicare, and the president said it clearly and plainly that there's nothing in these proposals that would cut regular Medicare benefits or increase cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries."

Washington Republicans credit Obama with giving a strong speech, but they argue he was short on the details, particularly how much the plan will cost. McDonald says the president made it clear that his plan will not add one dime to the federal deficit.

The Medicare prescription coverage "donut hole," is another issue AARP is watching. It's a gap in coverage that can cost people thousands of dollars. McDonald says Obama made it clear that all versions of the health reform plan being debated deal with that problem.

"The House bill would close the donut hole over time, and the Senate is talking about reducing the cost of brand name drugs while people are in the donut hole by 50 percent. Both would be a huge step forward."

An AARP overnight survey of Americans over 45 finds 77 percent of Independents had concerns about health care reform going into Wednesday night's speech, but that 72 percent felt their concerns were addressed by the president's speech.

The survey is at www.aarp.org/research/surveys/care/health/hcreform/articles/pres_speech.html.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA