House Democrats sought to needle GOP colleagues on healthcare reform on Thursday by distributing boxes of donuts to mark the beginning of an effort to close a gap in seniors' prescription drug coverage.

As Medicare begins to send out $250 rebate checks to seniors on Thursday to help assist seniors in purchasing prescription drugs, Democratic leadership staff delivered to the media boxes of "GOP Donut Holes" meant to suggest that the benefit would disappear if Republicans were in charge of Congress.

The checks are part of the healthcare reform law passed by Democrats earlier this year. The new law closes the "donut hole" that had existed in the prescription drug benefit program established by the Republican-controlled Congress last decade. The plan had Medicare cover the cost of seniors' drugs up to a certain amount, but then wouldn't cover the full cost of drugs until they reached a higher amount, leaving a gap in seniors' prescription drug coverage.

"Congressional Republicans, who created the donut hole, refused to help close it by opposing health reform and are now fighting to keep the donut hole in place, pledging again this week that they would do so," Democratic leadership staff wrote in a memo.

Pointing to GOP pledges to repeal and replace elements of the healthcare bill, Democrats warned Republicans "would not only strip seniors of more affordable prescription drug coverage," but also eliminate other reforms Democrats said would improve healthcare for seniors.

The effort comes as part of a concerted effort by Democrats in the House, Senate and beyond to highlight the benefits to seniors created by health reform, their signature legislative achievement in the past year and a half.

The Democratic National Committee launched a series of efforts targeting seniors on the benefits today, and President Barack Obama held an online town hall earlier this week to promote the legislation.


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