Sebelius: Medicare 'stronger than ever' due to healthcare law

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusSebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' Obama's health secretary to be first female president of American University Leaked email: Podesta pushed Tom Steyer for Obama’s Cabinet MORE praised the healthcare reform law Monday for bolstering Medicare and appeared to criticize GOP proposals that would partially privatize the program.

"Before the [healthcare] law passed, there were gaps in Medicare coverage," Sebelius said at a town hall on seniors' health sponsored by the White House.

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"When you add all the savings in the law up, the average Medicare beneficiary will save $4,200 over the next nine years. And those seniors with high drug costs will see even greater benefits." 

She added that the law will "maintain all the guaranteed Medicare benefits" seniors now enjoy — "unlike some recent proposals." 

"What all of this means is that Medicare is now going to be stronger than ever. Seniors will have better benefits, lower prescription costs and more affordable preventive care. And their children and grandchildren will have a stronger Medicare in the future," Sebelius said.

Parts of the Obama administration have continued to praise the law, even as the Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality looms.

A decision is expected by the end of June.

Sebelius's comments echoed those she gave at a women's health town hall on June 7.

There, she said that she is "confident and optimistic" the law will be upheld, but that "we'll be ready for contingencies" if it is not.

A recent report said Obama has privately expressed concerns he could have to revisit healthcare issues in a second term — an attitude that contradicts the confidence he's expressed publicly that the court will rule for the law.

Sebelius’s remarks came on the same day that Republican lawmakers stated that “the status quo in Medicare is a threat to seniors' care.”

In an informational document, the GOP Doctors' Caucus listed common Republican complaints about Medicare — that its eligibility age needs raising and that some of the program's budget is lost to fraud, among other complaints.

The caucus also complained that the health law's Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will recommend ways to reduce Medicare spending, was a panel of “unelected bureaucrats.”

“They will be charged with developing proposals that cut Medicare — and because the panel is prohibited from suggesting common-sense changes, the panel will only be able to cut reimbursements to physicians and other healthcare providers, resulting in delay and denial of care,” the document argues.

The board’s first recommendations are due in 2014.

Sebelius focused Monday on the affordability of prescription drugs and preventive care services for seniors.

“The rising cost of prescription drugs forced many seniors into the Medicare Part D doughnut hole where they were responsible for the full cost of expensive, but sometimes life-saving, drugs,” she said. “Many seniors also found critical and potentially life-saving preventive services ... out of reach.”

“Today, thanks to the healthcare law, we’re closing these long-standing gaps in care,” she added.

The GOP document did not mention any specific premium-support proposals, such as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanRepublican quits House Freedom Caucus Ted Koppel tells Sean Hannity he is bad for America Ryan aides: President 'clear' his tweet had nothing to do with Ryan MORE's, (R-Wis.) but said that “every American deserves candor about the challenges the program faces.”

It added: “We believe Congress has a moral obligation to adopt common-sense changes to strengthen Medicare and protect seniors.”

Republicans who signed it were Sens. Tom CoburnTom CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways MORE (Okla.), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoHow 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation Making water infrastructure a priority Overnight Energy: Trump's Keystone XL approval coming soon MORE (Wyo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanSenate Republicans eyeing alternative tax reform plan Lawmakers fundraise amid rising town hall pressure A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (Ark.) and Rand PaulRand PaulTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill MORE (Ky.) and Reps. Phil GingreyPhil GingreyBeating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street Former Rep. Gingrey lands on K Street MORE (Ga.), Phil Roe (Tenn.), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Paul GosarPaul GosarHouse votes to begin debate on healthcare bill; six Republicans defect Live coverage: House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill GOP lawmakers leave Trump White House with no deal MORE (Ariz.), Diane BlackDiane BlackObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote Medicaid block grants give states more freedom Dems wonder: Can GOP even pass a budget? MORE (Tenn.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), John FlemingJohn FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (La.), Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyLobbying World Former GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Yoga lobby fighting certification for teachers MORE Jr. (La.), Dan BenishekDan BenishekRepublican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Tea Party class reassesses record Michigan Republican to retire MORE (Mich.), Larry BucshonLarry BucshonThe Hill's Whip List: 36 GOP no votes on ObamaCare repeal plan A guide to the committees: House Republicans who oppose, support Trump refugee order MORE (Ind.) and Andy Harris (Md.).

—This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.