Republicans still battling for responsible health care reform in Congress will move the focus this week to the plan’s impact on seniors, said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) on Monday.
“I think you’ll see Republicans taking to the floor and the airwaves this week making sure American seniors understand the implications of this legislation,” said Pence.
This shift in strategy comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has committed to a convoluted public option which would include an “opt-out” at the state-level, a provision many view as a façade.
Republicans plan to lay out the numbers for seniors in the coming days to convince them that the deep cuts to Medicare advantage mandated by the Democrats’ plan would be catastrophic to general quality of life for American seniors.
“The cuts in Medicare Advantage in the Democratic Health Care plan totaled $162 billion,” said Pence, quoting the Congressional Budget Office data. “As a result, Medicare advantage plans will drop out of the program, limiting senior’s choices and causing many to lose the current health care that they have.”
Pence added, “The CBO has also said the Democrats’ health plan will increase senior’s Medicare prescription drug premiums by 20% over the next decade. We think seniors have the right to know that.”
Republicans are beginning to question the role that AARP, the powerful lobbying group for seniors, should be playing in this debate. Rep. Dave Reichart (R-Wash.), a former sheriff, is leading the charge to define this large and influential organization.
“60% of AARP’s revenue comes from royalties selling insurance. 38% of that 60% is from revenues in support of and selling health insurance,” said Reichart Monday. “What’s the definition of an insurance company? Does the AARP fit the definition of an insurance company in [your state]? If they do, what rules and regulations should they abide by? AARP has said over and over there will be no loss of benefits, no increase in costs, [while] the CEO of United Health (the company that provides the AARP branded health care) has said just the opposite.”
Republicans will shine a light on transparency as well this week, calling attention to the stark differences between campaign promises and real world follow through as the health care legislation takes shape.
Reminding President Obama of his campaign promise to keep debate in the public forum will be part of this strategy. “We’ll have the negotiations televised on C-Span,” Obama said last year. “So that the people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
Driving the debate back into the public forum at large is one major goal behind the Republicans’ senior-specific push. “The American people assume that things have slowed down out here. Then I go home and tell folks it hasn’t slowed down — it’s just gone out of the public eye. That’s very offensive to millions of Americans,” said Pence.
Crucial for Republican opposition at this point is nailing home the fact that pushing debts further into the future and shrouding them in endless bureaucracy does not make them go away. Said Pence, “Using Wall Street bailout funds to finance additional loans to small businesses while you’re working on a massive government takeover of health insurance paid for with hundreds of billions of dollars of higher taxes is like giving people a Christmas bonus right before you give them a pink slip.”