Democrats given healthcare reform to-do list for recess


House Democratic leadership has given members a list of suggestions for building support for the healthcare reform law ahead of the midterm elections. The top three suggestions:

• Hold a roundtable discussion on the so-called "Patient's Bill of Rights," which consists of new insurance provisions in the law that starts Sept. 23. These include mandating coverage of sick children; banning arbitrary rescissions; prohibiting lifetime limits and restricting annual limits; protecting patients' choice of doctor; and removing barriers to emergency room care.

• Demonstrate the new Web portal (www.HealthCare.org) that helps consumers navigate their private insurance options and helps them determine if they're eligible for public programs such as Medicaid or the new high-risk insurance pools.

• Hold a press conference with local seniors' groups on the second round of "doughnut hole" rebate checks, which are slated to go out Saturday to about 300,000 beneficiaries. The $250 checks are meant to help seniors pay for their Medicare prescription drug coverage; the first round went out June 10 to about 80,000 beneficiaries.

The push comes as new polls show growing support for the healthcare reform law even if seniors continue to have concerns.

Other events suggested include:

• Meeting with seniors to talk about elder fraud prevention;

• Holding events with small business owners to tout the law's $40 billion in tax credits for small businesses; 

• Organizing events with mid-sized and large employers to bring attention to the law's $5 billion Early Retiree Program;

• Pointing out that congressional and White House pressure has led insurers to decide to immediately end arbitrary rescissions ahead of the Sept. 23 date called for in the law; and

• Touting other provisions, such as the requirement that dependents until age 26 be allowed to stay on their parents' policy as well as new grants to promote primary care and prevention.