Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusObama's health secretary to be first female president of American University Leaked email: Podesta pushed Tom Steyer for Obama’s Cabinet Romney: Trump victory 'very possible' 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.
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 RyanBorder tax is reverse redistribution CEOs come to defense of border tax plan 7 key players in the GOP's border tax fight 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 CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation MORE (Okla.), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoMaking transportation public-private partnerships available in rural America Pruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Overnight Energy: EPA pick Pruitt set for Friday vote | Dems plan all-night protest | Trump nixes Obama coal mining rule MORE (Wyo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanGOP considers ways to ‘modernize’ endangered species law GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget GOP senators to Trump: We support 'maintaining and expanding' Gitmo MORE (Ark.) and Rand PaulRand PaulTrump’s feud with the press in the spotlight Rand Paul: We’re very lucky John McCain’s not in charge Rand Paul: John Bolton would be a 'bad choice' for national security adviser 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 GosarTrump administration doesn't care about the housing needs of low-income people Freedom Caucus meets with senators on ObamaCare replacement McCarren-Ferguson healthcare antitrust exemption must go MORE (Ariz.), Diane BlackDiane BlackHouse votes to let states deny federal funds to abortion providers Planned Parenthood targets GOP lawmakers amid ObamaCare protests Overnight Healthcare: GOP rift threatens repeal effort | Republicans move against Planned Parenthood | Humana to quit ObamaCare 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 BoustanyYoga lobby fighting certification for teachers Ill. rep named new chairman for House tax-policy subcommittee Clay Higgins wins La. House seat 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 BucshonRepublicans who oppose, support Trump refugee order Overnight Tech: Trump meets Alibaba founder | Uber to make some data public | GOP Lawmakers tapped for key tech panels CBO: Bill to block controversial Medicare change would cost 5M MORE (Ind.) and Andy Harris (Md.).
—This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.