KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Seniors’ Medicare Unease Turning Them Towards Romney, Republican Congressional Candidates

News outlets are reporting House Republicans appear to have thwarted the Democratic attack on Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to revamp Medicare as senior voters are more in the Republican camp.

Reuters: Older Voters Prefer Romney On Healthcare, Medicare: Reuters/Ipsos poll
As early voting proceeds across the country ... voters over 50 continue to be more likely than most to prefer Republican challenger Mitt Romney to President Barack Obama and to favor Romney's position on two issues that directly affect the elderly: healthcare and Medicare. ... older likely voters preferred Romney 51 percent to 43 percent during the week ending November 4 (Debenedetti, 11/2).

Politico: Seniors Still Out Of Obama's Reach
Democrats hoped President Barack Obama would make inroads with seniors this year. ... for the most part, they just don’t seem willing to give Obama a chance — despite their distrust of Ryan’s budget and Medicare reforms. ... the president’s health care reforms have made things even more difficult, pollsters say. There’s an inherent distrust of any changes to the existing system, and continuing resistance to the underlying idea of universal health care, which many seniors fear will cut into their benefits (Tau, 11/4).

And in congressional races -

The Hill: Medicare Fades As 'Majority-Maker' Issue For House Dems 
Democratic leaders have hit Medicare harder than any other issue for more than a year, even calling Ryan's plan a "majority-maker." But with Election Day just around the corner, Democrats are looking at pickups in the single digits — far short of the 25 seats they would need to retake the House. Medicare simply hasn't become the powerful tool that Democrats — and even many Republicans — expected. ... Rather than debating Ryan's budget in specific detail, Republicans launched a Medicare attack of their own, accusing Democrats of "robbing" $716 billion from Medicare to pay for President Obama's healthcare law (Baker, 11/3).

Related, earlier KHN "explainer" story: FAQ: Decoding The $716 Billion In Medicare Reductions (8/17).

Bloomberg: House Democrats Not Getting Medicare Traction They Sought
New York Democrat Kathy Hochul won her U.S. House seat in 2011 by attacking a Republican plan to partially privatize Medicare. This year she is emphasizing trade, jobs and the economy in her re-election campaign. For Hochul and fellow House Democrats such as Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, the Republican plan to offer private insurance for future Medicare recipients isn't providing the same political mileage that helped Hochul win in a special election. The Hochul and Critz races are rated "tossup" by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report (Rowley, 11/2). 

The Associated Press: GOP Likely To Hold House After $1B Campaign
In districts from one ocean to the other, Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to gut Medicare, the popular health insurance program for the elderly, and slice domestic programs like education while seeking tax cuts for the rich. They've also accused them of attacking women's rights with measures to curb abortion and cut funds for Planned Parenthood. ... The GOP has lambasted Democrats for supporting President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and other big spending programs like Obama's economic stimulus package. Democrats also are accused of cutting Medicare themselves and boosting taxes on the middle class (Fram, 11/3). 

But all races are not affected the same way -

Chicago Tribune: GOP Congressmen In Heated Suburban Races Forced To Defend Votes On Ryan Budget Plan 
Republican incumbents in three closely contested suburban congressional races have found themselves having to defend their own voting records — in particular the budget plan offered by their vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan. ... Democrats contend Republicans are trying to end the "guarantee" of Medicare and replace it with a voucher system. Republicans argue that Medicare will go broke in 2024 without changes. The GOP also says those who are 55 will have the current system ... But the nuance, particularly in the highly partisan-charged atmosphere of a campaign, can get lost in semantics (Pearson, 11/3).


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