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Dems' Medicare Part D spin on Healthcare.gov problems gets the Truthometer test

Tom.true.art

While apologizing for the problems with Healthcare.gov, Democrats have pointed to the problems rolling out the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit program as a way of saying, "See? This Republican program had the same problems, and now that it's fixed, everyone loves it."

Recently Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., told MSNBC, "When things go wrong, there are two things we can do as a country. We can spend all our time figuring out who to blame, or we can spend all our time figuring out how to fix it."

Our friends at PolitiFact decided to look beneath the spin to see if it holds up. 

"This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches. My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches." What high-ranking politician said this in defense of program rollout woes?

"A Democrat in 2013? Wrong! Actually, it was Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, about Medicare Part D in 2006, says PolitiFact. 

Eerie. Even the word "glitches" is the same as what administrators are using now. 

According to a report on the history of Medicare Part D released by health policy experts at the Center on Health Insurance Reform at Georgetown University, "the Bush administration faced a difficult political battle to get the bill passed in 2003. That damaged public opinion of the law, making it a challenge to educate 43 million seniors on its nuances."

"A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only 27 percent of respondents understood the law, while only 21 percent favored it."

"The Medicare site, meant to help seniors pick benefit plans, was supposed to debut Oct. 13, 2005, but it didn’t go live until weeks later in November. Even then, "the tool itself appeared to be in need of fixing," the Washington Post reported at the time."

The similarities go on. Today, nine in 10 seniors who use Medicare Part D report satisfaction with it. 

There are key differences between this program and the Affordable Care Act that affected their launches. One is that Medicare Part D didn't aim to use the Web as its primary hub for enrollment. Another was that that program had only 70 to 100 plans, versus over 2,000 ACA-compliant health plan choices. A third:  prescription drugs are a relatively easy-to-understand part of health care. Shopping for an insurance plan is more complicated.

Perhaps the biggest difference between now and then is political. While Republicans actively seek to derail the ACA, about 20 states, many of them blue, came to the rescue when Medicare Part D was in trouble, PolitiFact reports.  

Israel's statement moves the Truthometer into the True zone. Read the report

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