KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Dems Win Upset In NY Special Election; Medicare Viewed As Game-Changing Issue

Democrats claimed a victory Tuesday, winning a congressional seat in one of New York's most conservative districts. The win is considered by many as a blow to the GOP plan to overhaul Medicare. It's also likely to add to Republican intra-party strains surrounding the issue.

The Associated Press: Medicare Overhaul Proposal Causing GOP Stress
Little more than a month after they backed sweeping changes to Medicare, Republicans are on the political defensive, losing a House seat long in their possession and exhibiting significant internal strains for the first time since last fall's election gains (Espo, 5/24).

The New York Times: Democrat Wins GOP Seat; Rebuke Seen To Medicare Plan
Democrats scored an upset in one of New York's most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party's plan to overhaul Medicare (Hernandez, 5/24).

Los Angeles Times: Medicare Proposal May Have Cost GOP A House Seat In New York
The political risks of overhauling a popular entitlement program became a harsh reality for Republicans on Tuesday as a Democrat captured a House seat in a staunchly conservative New York district after a bruising battle over the future of Medicare. Democrat Kathy Hochul's surprising victory in the special election in western New York was the first major blow to Republicans since their rise to power in the fall election (Hennessey, 5/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Democrat Captures House Seat
While the outcome was complicated by a third-party candidate, members of Congress are sure to study the results for the role that the Republican Medicare proposal may have played in the race. "We had the issues on our side - did we not have the right issues on our side?" Ms. Hochul said at her victory party, as supporters chanted "Medicare! Medicare!" (Hughes and Bendavid, 5/25).

The Associated Press: Medicare Key To Shocking Dem Win In NY House Race
Kathy Hochul told her supporters they had picked the right issue to fight a Republican on long-held Republican turf. The Democrat rode a wave of voter discontent over the national GOP's plan to change Medicare and overcame decades of GOP dominance here to capture Tuesday's special election in New York's 26th Congressional District (Fouhy and Dobbin, 5/25).

ABC News: Referendum On Medicare? Democrat Wins Special Election In GOP-Leaning NY-26
The last Democrat to be elected from the district left office eight years ago, and only three Democrats have won in this area in the past century. New York's 26th was one of just four districts in the state that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. But [Kathy] Hochul made Ryan's Medicare plan, which would overhaul the program from the way it exists now, the key issue of her campaign (Khan and Walter, 5/24).

CBS: Kathy Hochul's Special Election Triumph Sends Republicans Ominous Medicare Message
[…] Even the most optimistic Republicans privately recognize that [Kathy] Hochul's upset victory is an ominous sign for their party. Pre-election polling showed that the number one issue in the district - where 40 percent of the electorate is over 55 years old - was Medicare (Montopoli, 5/24).

Roll Call: Democrat Wins New York Special Election In Upset
Democrats cheered the outcome as the direct result of voter dissatisfaction with the House Republican budget plan, which Corwin supported and would fundamentally reshape Medicare. Republicans largely blamed the loss on Davis, a former Democrat who occupied the Tea Party ballot line and spent more than $2.5 million from his personal fortune on a campaign that ultimately siphoned votes away from Corwin (Peoples, 5/24).

NPR: Outside Groups Spend Big In N.Y. Special Election
Outside money groups filled the airwaves in the 26th District with negative advertising as they prepare for big-budget campaigns in the 2012 elections. These outside money groups are separate from the national parties - Never mind that they're run by former party operatives. They are also untethered from contribution limits when they raise money. ... Eighty-seven percent of the spending was negative (Overby, 5/25).

In related news, Senate Democrats press politics in run up to budget vote, also attempt to portray GOP Medicare and Medicaid proposals as attacks on women -

The Hill: Dems Press Medicare Attack As GOP Downplays Budget Vote
Democratic and Republican senators clashed Tuesday over the significance of a vote on House Republicans' budget. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sought to brush the vote aside, saying the only real work being done on the budget is taking place in the working group led by Vice President Joe Biden (Baker, 5/24).

Politico: Senate Dems: Ryan Budget Hurts Women
Senate Democrats got a lot of traction labeling attempts by House Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood as an attack on women, and now they are trying the same tactic with the Republican overhauls of Medicare and Medicaid (Millman, 5/25).

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