KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Examining Romney’s ‘Shift’ On Birth Control Mandate, Other Campaign News

Mitt Romney's conservative credentials on birth control are examined through the lens of a Massachusetts state law similar to the birth control mandate President Obama has proposed. In other campaign news, Rick Santorum continues his "Romneycare" assault, and The Associated Press analyzes how Obama's birth control compromise affects the campaign.

The Wall Street Journal: Romney And Birth Control: A Shift
Mitt Romney has said the Obama administration is intruding on religious freedom by moving to require religious–affiliated employers to cover contraception services in their health insurance plans. When confronted with a similar law as governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney didn't raise objections on religious or moral grounds, say people who worked in his administration or in health care interest groups there. Rather, he viewed the contraception requirement more in economic terms, as only one of many costly "mandates'' that some believed were driving up the price of insurance and suppressing competition, according to these people (Nicholas, 2/13).

The Associated Press: Spin Meter: Gov. Romney Quiet On Birth-Control Law
Mitt Romney faulted President Barack Obama's original push to require church-affiliated employers to pay for birth control as an "assault on religion," but as Massachusetts governor, Romney was largely silent about a state law that required virtually the same contraceptive coverage. The Massachusetts law, which essentially mirrored Obama's proposal, was signed by Romney's predecessor in 2002, the year before he took office. Romney did not seek its repeal (LeBlanc, 2/11).

The New York Times: Romney's Path To 'Pro-Life' Position On Abortion
From the moment he left business for politics, the issue of abortion has bedeviled Mitt Romney. ... He tangled with President Obama last week over whether religiously affiliated hospitals should be required to provide free contraceptives — "abortive pills," Mr. Romney called them. ... The comments reflect Mr. Romney's evolution from abortion rights advocate to abortion foe; gone was any trace of the candidate for governor who, 10 years ago, answered a Planned Parenthood questionnaire by saying he backed "state funding of abortion services" under Medicaid (Stolberg, 2/11).

NPR: Health Care In Massachusetts: 'Abject Failure' Or Work In Progress?
Romney is now a GOP presidential contender, and that's made the Massachusetts universal health care law a political football. Romney's rival Rick Santorum recently called it "an abject failure." But "Romneycare," as Santorum and others call it, isn't controversial in its home state (Knox, 2/13).

The Associated Press: Santorum Plans Aggressive Strategy Against Romney
Santorum said the president's plan doesn't resolve the issue. He says many Catholic institutions are self-insured and those organizations will still be forced to pay for women's contraception despite their religious objections. "There's no compromise here. They are forcing religious organizations, either directly or indirectly to pay for something that they find is a deeply, morally, you know, wrong thing," Santorum, a Catholic, told NBC's "Meet the Press" (Peoples, 2/12).

The Associated Press: Analysis: Obama Pitches Middle While GOP Eyes Base
The dustup over contraception underscored President Barack Obama's political edge in working to attract independent voters without alienating his Democratic base. His Republican rivals are forced to keep emphasizing their conservative credentials to attract the right-leaning activists who dominate the nominating contests. It's a dynamic that usually plays out when a president seeks re-election without a primary challenger, and the other party fights to determine its nominee (Babington, 2/12).

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