KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

As Court Brings Health Overhaul Into Focus, Politicians Pounce

Rick Santorum picks up his criticism of Mitt Romney's efforts in Massachusetts, which set up mandatory health coverage, but the former governor continues to assail the federal plan.

The Washington Post: Review Of 'Obamacare' Puts GOP Spotlight On Romney's Massachusetts Health Care Law
The state overhaul [Romney] championed as governor of Massachusetts is so similar to the sweeping federal law conservatives deride as "Obamacare" that it was once widely regarded as a big enough liability to doom his presidential chances. … This week, as the Supreme Court reviews the Obama administration’s health-care law, Romney's remaining opponents for the Republican presidential nomination are trying to capitalize on what may be one of their last opportunities to deny him the prize (Rucker and Balz, 3/26).

The Hill: Santorum Visits The Court, Says He's Best GOP Candidate Vs. Obama On Health Care
Rick Santorum visited the Supreme Court Monday and accused Mitt Romney of not wanting to repeal the Obama administration's healthcare law. Speaking on the high court’s steps just after the first of three days of oral arguments on the national law ended, Santorum said Romney's absence was proof that Santorum is the only candidate in the race who actually wants to repeal the law (Strauss, 3/26).

Politico: Santorum: Only I'm Qualified To Repeal Obamacare
"There's only one candidate … who can make this the central issue that will be a winning issue to win the presidency back," Santorum said at the Court (Haberkorn, 3/26).

National Journal: Santorum At Supreme Court: Romney 'Uniquely Disqualified' To Attack 'Obamacare'
Santorum pledged to center his campaign on opposition to the health care law and said that Republicans should make him their nominee if they really want the law repealed (Kaplan, 3/26).

The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times: Santorum Is *Bleeping* Mad
An agitated Rick Santorum on Sunday called Mitt Romney "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama." ... Santorum later lashed out at reporters, using a profane word as he accused them of "distorting" his speech. … "On the issue of health care. That's what I was talking about, and I was very clear about talking about that. OK?" Santorum told reporters (Elliot, 3/26).

Reuters: As Pressure Builds, Santorum Shows A Dark Side
 On the campaign trail, Santorum wraps his speeches in somber warnings about Americans losing their freedom in Obama's America -- particularly when it comes to the president's healthcare overhaul, whose requirement for Americans to buy health insurance is the focus of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this week (Jacobs, 3/26).

Reuters: Romney Scrambles To Raise Cash For Santorum Battle
Romney used his San Diego speech at NuVasive, a company that produces devices for spinal surgery, to attack the healthcare overhaul that Obama steered through the U.S. Congress ... The healthcare law, said Romney, will increase regulation and costs on companies like NuVasive, forcing them to pay more in taxes and hire fewer workers as a result (Holland, 3/26).

The Associated Press: Romney Trumpets Rush Of Conservative Endorsements
In California, Romney stood in front of a "Repeal & Replace ObamaCare" sign at the medical device company, which was founded with venture capital. He attacked the medical device tax included in the health care law — though he didn't, during a more than 20-minute speech and despite the sign, explicitly call for the law's repeal  (Hunt, 3/27).

Roll Call: Mitt Romney Earns GOP Health Care Truce
Even as Rick Santorum steps up his attacks on Mitt Romney over health care, Senate Republicans are expressing confidence in the GOP presidential frontrunner and his ability to lead their party on this crucial issue come November. ... "I still don't like the plan the way it ended up in Massachusetts, but I like the fact that he tried to solve a problem," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said in an interview last week. ... "It's very different than a federal model that you can't change" (Drucker, 3/27).

Meanwhile, the president and his campaign aren't so upset about the GOP's name for the health law.

Reuters: Obama Campaign: Obamacare Not A Bad Word After All
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. President Barack Obama's campaign has embraced the term "Obamacare," seeking to turn the negative name Republicans assigned to his healthcare reform effort into a positive branding tool ... "Happy birthday, Obamacare," Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, wrote in an email to supporters last week to note the anniversary of the reform becoming law (Mason, 3/26).

And the Boston Globe examines the competition for women voters.

Boston Globe: President Obama, Mitt Romney Vie For Female Support
Both camps are trying to exploit very different issues as they stake their claim on women, a coveted group of voters whose shift from supporting Democrats in 2008 to Republicans in 2010 helped the GOP take over the House. The Obama campaign is trying to sell the benefits of the president's health care law, sensing an opportunity to appeal to women repelled by the Republican focus on social issues. ... Republicans are responding by trying to keep women focused squarely on the economy (Levenson, 3/27).

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