Obama times 'tele-town hall' to seniors' rebate checks

President Barack Obama will host a “tele-town hall” at a Maryland senior center on Tuesday as Democrats work to boost support for the healthcare law in advance of the November congressional elections.

The event in Wheaton, Md., is timed to the first mailing of $250 rebate checks to senior citizens as part of the broad healthcare bill Obama signed in March. The rebates are aimed at closing the so-called “donut hole” which excludes many Medicare Part D recipients from full coverage of prescription drugs.

The White House said the event is also intended to head off scams and fraud ahead of the first mailing of checks. Seniors across the country will be able to participate by phone.

Obama and other Democratic leaders have held frequent events to promote aspects of the healthcare law that take effect this year, including the rebate checks, a ban on insurers excluding children based on pre-existing conditions and a requirement that insurance companies allow children of beneficiaries to be covered until age 26. The goal is to turn around polls that show the healthcare unpopular with the public.

Democrats have especially focused on seniors, who make up a crucial voting bloc in November and who traditionally show up at the polls in higher numbers than younger citizens. Late last month Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, held a press conference in Washington to highlight benefits of the law to Medicare recipients and combat misperceptions they say have been fed by critics.

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