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NE Advocates Hope Next Debate Keeps Focus on Dueling Medicare Plans

PHOTO: The David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University, site of the second 2012 presidential debate. Courtesy Hofstra University
PHOTO: The David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University, site of the second 2012 presidential debate. Courtesy Hofstra University
October 15, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. - Health care was the subject of heated exchanges in the vice presidential debate last week, and advocates in New England and the nation are hoping both parties' dueling reform plans get even more serious scrutiny in Tuesday night's Obama-Romney rematch.

During the vice presidential debate, Republican nominee Paul Ryan accused the current administration of having an Obamacare board that would "lead to denied care for current seniors."

Ned Helms, director of the Institute for Health Policy and Practice at UNH, says quite the opposite is true, as the Affordable Care Act expands to reach more Connecticut residents of all ages.

"Businesses are getting rebates for the premiums that they pay. Kids with pre-existing conditions are now being covered. People see it in their day-to-day lives. It's very real for them. It's about time that it became real for the politicians."

Romney has indicated there are "some parts" of the Affordable Care Act he would like to preserve, but has yet to be specific as to how his plan would pay for them. Romney and Obama meet again Tuesday night in New York to debate foreign and domestic policy.

Romney says repealing the Affordable Care Act is a top priority.

Marc Steinberg, deputy director of health policy at Families USA, says that move would cut a valuable health benefit for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents.

"Last year, 343,900 people with Medicare in Connecticut - that's seniors and people with disabilities - got free preventive health-care services; but under the Romney plan, Medicare would again start charging cost-sharing for these services."

Steinberg adds that more than 39,000 Connecticut seniors stand to lose the help they are currently getting with prescription drug costs. He says the average value of that help, under the Affordable Care Act, was $669 for people in Connecticut last year.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT