- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday touted parts of the health care overhaul federal law that help seniors, while one of the Republicans hoping to unseat her repeated his call to repeal it entirely.

Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, held a round-table discussion Tuesday at a Concord retirement community, where she discussed how the Affordable Care Act has reduced prescription drug costs by giving seniors a 50 percent discount for brand-name drugs when they hit the “doughnut hole,” the gap in Medicare drug coverage that is being phased out under the new law.

“We’re seeing folks in New Hampshire saving up to $800 a year in prescription drug costs because of those changes,” she said.

Shaheen also described a provision she sponsored that created a pilot program aimed at preventing costly hospital re-admissions. The program creates a transitional care benefit for Medicare recipients that pays for follow-up care after they leave the hospital, such as help figuring out when to take medication or coordinating meal delivery and transportation to appointments.

Shaheen later told reporters that while the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, it is an improvement over the former health care system.

“Do we need to keep working on it? Absolutely, like with any other major program,” she said. “But those people who want to repeal it have no plan to replace it. Their plan is to put people back at the mercy of insurance companies who are going to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, who are going to put limits on their care, who are going to discriminate against women again. I don’t think that’s a system anyone wants to go back to.”

A few hours later, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown held a town hall meeting in Nashua focused on the health care overhaul law, which he wants to repeal. He argued the law has stifled job growth by creating uncertainty for businesses and is prompting some to limit the number of hours their employees can work. Describing how his own mother often had to work two jobs to support her family, Brown said under the Affordable Care Act, she likely would have had to juggle three jobs.

“I’m telling you, the tentacles are everywhere,” he said.

Brown said the law has been particularly problematic for New Hampshire, because the only company selling plans through the new marketplace excluded 10 of the state’s 26 acute-care hospitals. Next year, however, two other private insurance companies and two cooperatives are expected to begin offering plans, and each hospital will be included in at least three of the available networks.

“When I look at the VA, I see Obamacare in a few years,” said Brown, referring to the recent reports of patient deaths, widespread treatment delays and falsified records at Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide.

Two women in the audience praised the law, telling Brown how it had helped their families or people they know. He responded that he, too, agrees with the concepts of covering pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plan, but that states should come up with their own solutions.

“If those are things we as a group care about, we can implement them,” he said.

Brown is one of several Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith and former state Sen. Jim Rubens, who are competing in the Sept. 9 primary for a chance to take on Shaheen.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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