Health Care Reform Puts Seniors on Edge

At a rally Friday in Orlando, Florida, there were more fears that health care reform will lead to rationing. The event was arranged by cardiologists already facing cuts in payments from Medicare. The doctors say they'll have to ration and possibly deny care to elderly patientS. Talk like that is fueling health care reform opposition among seniors, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson

A CBS News poll shows 57 percent of the 65-and-over crowd thinks their access to care will diminish and their own costs will rise.

At the heart of many fears is President Obama's proposal to find $300 billion in savings from Medicare over ten years. He says he can do it without touching benefits.

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"We are going to make Medicare more efficient, guaranteeing today's seniors better benefits than they have right now," the president said.

On the benefits side, Democrats aim to reduce the so-called Medicare doughnut hole. That's where some patients pay the full cost of their prescription medicine until they've spent $3,600 out of pocket.

Democrats would also eliminate co-payments for screenings and preventative services. Among the worries is $160 billion in cuts to private companies that provide Medicare advantage insurance to millions of seniors. The President says cuts will come from company profits, but Republicans say the companies may raise premiums, cut benefits or even drop out of medicare, forcing seniors to change plans.

"We just don't believe that the government will run it, can run it," said one senior.

With so many seniors worked up over health care reform, some are taking things in n stride, believing things will remain just as they are.

"So the plug won't be pulled on me unless they go against my wishes,'' joked one person.

As the debate drags on over the summer, the fact that there is no final plan to examine leaves a certain vacuum that's filled by uncertainty and fear

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.