Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 13, 2009

Donnelly drops by North Woods

Rep takes seniors’ questions on health care

Fresh from the landmark House health care reform bill vote, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly stopped by Kokomo’s North Woods Commons Friday to defend his position.

Assuring about 30 seniors that he had indeed read the 1,900-page bill, Donnelly said the legislation won’t change Medicare, and said the bill will end up reducing the federal deficit.

In addition, Donnelly said, the bill will, by the end of its 10-year lifespan, close the “doughnut hole” in Medicare Part D, the out-of-pocket expenses many seniors must pay for prescription drugs.

“In 2019, when some of you are in your 50s,” Donnelly joked, drawing a laugh, “the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated.”

He was accompanied on his visit by Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, who praised Donnelly’s vote as “courageous,” and by June Lyle, state director of the Indiana chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons.

“This bill does benefit seniors,” Donnelly said. “It does not cut Medicare Advantage — it changes how it’s paid for. Before, the insurance companies were charging about a 20 percent premium. Now they’ll be charging about 12 percent. That [savings] can now go toward health care, and to make sure the bill is completely funded.”

Donnelly acknowledged the bill faces a tough road in the U.S. Senate, saying he expects the Senate to vote on its own version some time in the spring.

“They will work on the bill, and I think they’ll make an even better bill,” Donnelly said.

The congressman said he received an avalanche of communication from constituents prior to last Saturday’s vote. His vote helped the bill narrowly pass, 220-215. Only one Republican supported the bill, and 39 Democrats voted against it.

Without naming names, Donnelly was critical of both “cable news” and commercials sponsored by groups against the bill.

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