KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Rep. Ryan Potential ‘Foil’ For Obama; Candidates Consider Reform’s Role In Races

The New York Times: Rep. Paul Ryan, "as you may have heard, is the Republican star of the moment. A 40-year-old from southeastern Wisconsin serving his sixth term in the House, Mr. Ryan has been getting a lot of attention for his 'Roadmap for America's Future,' an unusually austere proposal to vanquish the federal debt by, among other things, partly dismantling Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist." The Times reports that Obama may have found his foil in Ryan, just as President Clinton found one in Newt Gingrich. " But what President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich demonstrated in the mid-1990s is that meaningful bipartisan agreements can also be forged by fierce and ideologically opposed competitors who wrestle each other toward a tolerable consensus, as long as that consensus stands to benefit both parties politically. … Mr. Obama hasn't found that kind of useful nemesis on the right … and until now he hasn't really needed one. Mr. Ryan, of course, wouldn't be empowered to deal with the White House in the way that Mr. Gingrich was as a Republican speaker. But as the party's most public face on fiscal issues, there are reasons to think Mr. Ryan could become an influential emissary if the president is serious about assembling a coalition for a budget overhaul" (Bai, 8/11).

In the meantime, other candidates are considering what health reform means in their races.

The Associated Press/The Christian Science Monitor: Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio is urging the repeal of the newly enacted health reform law. He also favors replacing it with simpler measures. The talking points he advocates involve medical malpractice reform and the same tax breaks for individuals as provided businesses when they buy insurance (8/11).

The Associated Press/The Boston Globe: A plan announced by Vermont Democratic governor candidate Deb Markowitz would "establish a single form that any insurers doing business in Vermont would have to use, eliminating paperwork that eats up time and money and drives up health care costs for everybody." She is one of five Democrats vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a late August primary. "Markowitz, who favors a single-payer health care system providing universal care, said she would press Vermont's congressional delegation to obtain a federal waiver allowing the state to establish a self-insurance system under which it could bargain with drug manufacturers and health care providers for lower rates" (Curran, 8/11).

The Boston Globe, in a separate story: The candidates for governor in Massachusetts are fighting over health care issues. The candidates - Governor Deval Patrick, state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, and Charles D. Baker - held press conferences Wednesday and accused each other of using problems in that state's health care system to political advantage. "Patrick was first up. He accused Cahill, an independent, and Baker, a Republican, of not supporting his efforts to reduce health care costs for small businesses … Cahill, standing in the same spot 2 1/2 hours later, criticized Patrick's health care efforts as election-year gimmickry … The unusual back-to-back-to-back appearances showcased three men trying to return to their campaign messages as they worked to fend of increasingly hard-hitting attacks" (Levenson, 8/12).

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