NATION SHOULD LEARN FROM ENACTMENT AND REPEAL OF CLAUDE PEPPER'S MEDICARE CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE ACT THAT REPEALS AND CUTS ONLY RECREATE NEED TO ENACT HEALTH CARE AGAIN, SAY WEINER AND GLADDEN
WASHINGTON, July 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National issues strategist Robert Weiner, former White House spokesman and chief of staff of the U.S. House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee under Rep. Claude Pepper (D-Fla.), and policy and research analyst Nakia Gladden are highlighting the similarities between Rep. Pepper's Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act – a bill that was enacted into law in 1988 but repealed 16 months later – and the current 39 attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the many "defund and destroy" outright and nickel-and-dime cutbacks. Weiner and Gladden assert, "We should learn from the repeal of Claude Pepper's Catastrophic Coverage Act and not again enter the cycle of having reform blocked by insurance industry-driven repeal. Repeals and cuts only recreate the need to enact health care again."
In an article in the Palm Beach Post today, "Resist Push to Repeal or Cripple Affordable Care Act," Weiner and Gladden say, "This was the headline across cable TV news shows on July 23: "Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, threatens a government shutdown over Obamacare." Opposition to the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") – with 39 House-passed repeals but none in the Senate — but the administration agreeing to delays and funding cuts -- are reminiscent of opposition to the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, originally written by former Florida U.S. Senator and Congressman Claude Pepper."
Weiner and Gladden assert, "Pepper's bill was enacted in July 1988 and repealed 16 months later. We should have learned from that lesson. Instead, Affordable Care Act supporters are battling not just attempts to repeal the law but a more subtle, bit-by-bit 'defund and destroy' strategy."
The authors declare, "Pepper believed that catastrophic protection, which he introduced in 1987, was necessary to protect persons who suffered from long-term illness, treatment for which could deplete their families' savings. The bill capped out-of-pocket expenses, expanded nursing facility and hospital benefits, and offered outpatient prescription drug coverage. The bipartisan bill was signed by President Reagan. It created The Pepper Commission to address the issue of long-term care and home care. Mr. Pepper was chairman until he died in May 1989."
Weiner and Gladden say, "Health care lobbyists and insurance companies put their PR machines in motion to repeal the law. They organized hundreds of protests and bombarded members of Congress with irate mailers. As now, they converted seniors' support to opposition. Seniors were told they were paying too much, and they mobilized. The pressure drove Congress to repeal the bill on Nov. 22, 1989."
They state, "Fast-forward to Obamacare. The health industry is conducting a similar lobbying campaign, and has targeted seniors to repeal or defund the law."
They remind the public that, "Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sarah Palin first pushed the notion that the bill would create 'death panels' for senior citizens, to determine if they were too old or too at-risk to receive benefits, ignoring that insurance companies do exactly that. Claiming, 'We don't want government in our health care,' opposition leaders forgot to tell seniors that's what Medicare is, and seniors love it. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., stated, 'How much more socialist can you get than a government telling everybody what they can do?'"
Weiner and Gladden explain, "Whether out of common sense or a desire for money, some former opponents have come around. Rick Scott became one of seven Republican governors to favor the law's Medicaid expansion, saying, 'While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians that need it access to health care.'"
They cite as another example that "Florida's 22nd congressional district, which includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties and is represented by Democrat Lois Frankel, has 147,000 residents who lack health care insurance but are now eligible for it. According to Rep. Frankel, 'The Obamacare plan is going to take 33 million (uninsured) people and put them into the insurance market' across the nation."
Weiner and Gladden contend, "Supporters need to remain firm. In December, as part of the 'fiscal cliff' deal, the administration agreed to take out the CLASS Act, which provided long-term care insurance benefits to employees: Mr. Pepper's dream. Last month, President Obama delayed the Obamacare employer mandate. Republicans earlier required the administration to bar educational funding for the bill, forcing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to do outside fund-raising to inform people they are eligible. Twenty-four Republican governors are refusing to authorize the law's optional insurance exchanges or Medicaid expansion – denying any coverage to over 15 million Americans."
The authors point out, "Last week, President Obama re-launched an effort to keep the law in place, and stated that it helps to 'deliver more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs, and higher quality care. We're already seeing those effects take place.' The law has already put millions of young people on parents' plans, covered patients with pre-existing conditions and given families insurance rebates from overcharges."
Weiner and Gladden conclude, "It is a myth to say we have the best health care. The U.S. spends almost twice as much as the rest of the world while ranking 51st in life expectancy and 52nd in infant mortality, according to the CIA World Factbook. If we ever want to catch up, it's important that we learn from the repeal of Claude Pepper's Catastrophic Coverage Act and not have reform blocked by insurance industry-driven repeal."
Robert Weiner was a White House spokesman and Chief of Staff for Rep. Claude Pepper's House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee. Nakia Gladden is policy and research analyst for Solutions for Change.
Contact: Bob Weiner/Richard Mann 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates