CBS Touts Obamacare Provisions Many Seniors ‘Will Probably Like,’ But Warns of Longer Wait Times

 On Friday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson filed a report previewing how new health care reform provisions are expected to effect seniors. After beginning her piece by predicting that "a lot of them will probably like" the first changes that take effect, she recounted a number of benefits that will be offered to Medicare recipients at a substantially lower cost, and featured a soundbite of a reform advocate who claimed that the new benefits would actually lead to lower costs.

Attkisson then gave attention to more pessimistic predictions that seniors will have to wait a longer time for medical care because some doctors will stop accepting Medicare patients, but, as she concluded her report, she dismissed critics by reiterating the claims of Obamacare supporters that the changes "are quite popular and will be hard for anyone to take away." Attkisson:

Republicans have promised to do what they can to stop or roll back health care reform, but advocates say most of these first provisions taking effect are quite popular and will be hard for anyone to take away.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Friday, December 31, CBS Evening News :

HARRY SMITH: The battle over health care reform will continue to be a huge story in 2011. A lot of Americans are worried about what the changes might mean for them. Millions are about to find out. As Sharyl Attkisson reports, some key provisions take effect when the clock strikes 12 tonight.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Millions of seniors are about to get their first taste of health care reform, and a lot of them will probably like it. For the first time, the 45 million seniors on Medicare can get free annual physicals, no more co-payments. They'll get free screenings for diabetes and cancer. That includes mammograms and colonoscopies.

JAMES CHIONG, HEALTH INFORMATION CAMPAIGN: We think it will make, you know, the lives and wellness of seniors much better, and, in the end, it will help to drag down costs as diseases are caught sooner before they become more costly to treat.

ATTKISSON: Another plus: shrinking the so-called doughnut hole. Medicare patients used to have to pay the entire cost of their prescriptions after they spent about $2,800 until expenses reached about $6,400. Now they'll get a 50 percent discount on certain brand-name drugs, seven percent on generics. There are also less popular provisions. Medicare patients will pay higher premiums for prescription drugs if they make over $85,000; $170,000 for couples. Non-prescription drugs like cold and allergy medicine can't be reimbursed through tax free flexible spending or health savings accounts. And perhaps the biggest worry:

DR. HERBERT PARDES, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL: I think there's a very real concern about having adequate numbers of Medicare doctors.

ATTKISSON: That could mean long waits to see the doctor.

PARDES: I think they will see delays in the timing of their appointments. I think a number of doctors who’ve been frustrated because of the Medicare fee level will actually stop taking Medicare. So that's a real worry for all of us.

ATTKISSON: Republicans have promised to do what they can to stop or roll back health care reform, but advocates say most of these first provisions taking effect are quite popular and will be hard for anyone to take away.