GOP's Steele Announces 'Healthcare Bill of Rights' for Seniors

This is the latest effort by the GOP to garner opposition to Obama's reform efforts.

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With weeks left before Congress returns from recess, Republicans are reaching out to senior citizens who are worried that the Obama administration's healthcare reform would cut benefits from Medicare.

"Under the Democrats' plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed," Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote in an op-ed published today in the Washington Post.

It's the latest effort by the GOP to garner opposition to the healthcare overhaul put forward by the White House and congressional Democrats.

Steele also outlined a proposed "Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights" that he says Republicans plan to debut today.

Steele said the bill of rights would protect Medicare, prohibit a government-run insurance option, outlaw efforts to limit healthcare decisions based on age, prevent the government from determining end-of-life care, and preserve benefit programs for veterans and military families.

During town hall meetings nationwide, President Barack Obama has repeatedly told senior citizens that his plan would not reduce Medicare benefits.

The Democratic National Committee called the RNC's "feigned interest in Medicare" a scare tactic aimed at seniors.

As Congress struggles to pass a healthcare reform bill with support from both parties, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York told NBC's Meet the Press yesterday that a bipartisan bill is "looking less and less likely." And Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, wasn't optimistic about quick passage of the bill. He said yesterday on CNN that Obama's healthcare reform plan might have to wait until the economy improves.

Obama will be on vacation with his family this week at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. But Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president might make a few phone calls to members of the Senate Finance Committee, where some are trying to craft a bipartisan reform bill.