Castor, Sebelius say health care reform is doing good things for Medicare patients

Representative Castor said she wanted to highlight some provisions of the health care bill relating to Medicare - such as the fact that this year seniors in Medicare will receive annual screenings and check-ups without a co-pay. She also brought up the fact that the health care act also starts to close the gap in "donut hole" in the prescription drug plan starting this year and continuing through 2020.


The GOP-led House voted last month for the Ryan plan which overhauls Medicare. It would transform the federal health care plan for the elderly into a program in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. People 55 and over would remain in the current system, but younger workers would receive subsidies that would steadily lose value over time.


Castor said these reforms were in "stark contrast" to the GOP plan that so many of her House Republican colleagues have voted in favor of. "They think the answer is to end it (Medicare) by privatization..I think that's wrong," she said.


HHS Secretary Sebelius bashed the Ryan plan, saying it doesn't deal with the underlying costs of health care (which she says the Obama health care plan does to a certain extent), but simply shifts costs.


Citing Congressional Budget Office data, she says under the Ryan plan seniors would pay 70 percent of their health care bills, literally standing up the current rate that the elderly pay into the plan, which is roughly 30 percent. (The CBO figure she later quoted was 64 percent that seniors would have to come up).

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Tampa area Democrat Kathy Castor has been a strong and steadfast supporter of the federal health care bill pushed by the Dems and signed by President Obama a year ago. Although she didn't engage much with her GOP opponent running against her last fall, Castor proudly mentioned her support for the major piece of legislation wherever she engaged on the campaign trail.

Now, as the political debate has shifted somewhat due to the controversial plan for Medicare introduced by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan that the majority of the GOP led Republican House supported, Castor was joined on Thursday by Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on a conference call with reporters, where they jointly praised some of the provisions of the health care act just coming online, and also taking a few whacks at Ryan's proposal.

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