Candidates On Health Care Offense, Defense In Final Week Before Election
Candidates are in full campaign mode ahead of midterm elections that will likely spell out how the health law is implemented.
The New York Times reports that some Democrats are playing defense after voting for health reform. They include Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello who is running against Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt. "If Mr. Hurt was reading from his party's playbook, so was Mr. Perriello, a freshman Democrat scrapping to survive in the centrist Fifth Congressional District, which spans central and southern Virginia. He emphasized that the health law had preserved the private insurance system, and that he had already been thanked by constituents who can 'go to bed at night not having to worry' that they will be bankrupted by disease. Then he asked for a chance to improve an imperfect law" (Sack, 10/26).
National Journal, in a reported column: "[T]he reality that Democrats hate to discuss and even some Republicans have been hesitant to fully embrace is that the party's signature health care law is what's turning a bad election year into a disaster Democrats who opposed the bill are in surprisingly decent shape, given the lousy political environment. Many of the anti-health care Democrats hail from Southern districts that John McCain comfortably carried in 2008. And while many of them still face tough races, members like Bobby Bright of Alabama, Travis Childers of Mississippi, Ike Skelton of Missouri, and Larry Kissell of North Carolina find themselves with a fighting chance despite the deeply conservative nature of their districts" (Kraushaar, 10/26).
Tribune Washington Bureau/Los Angeles Times: While some Republicans are offering alternatives to the law, "some conservatives acknowledge that the healthcare program offered by party leaders is largely unchanged from the proposals the GOP pushed when it held majorities from 2000 to 2006. During that period, insurance premiums skyrocketed, businesses reduced benefits and the number of Americans without health insurance rose. While there is some disagreement, Republicans have largely coalesced around an approach that builds on basic pillars of GOP healthcare policy: loosen state regulation of insurance markets to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines; put new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits; and expand so-called high-risk pools to provide insurance to sick Americans who are denied coverage" (Levey, 10/27).
The Washington Post: "Across the country, polls show Republican candidates leading in contested races by campaigning against the Bush administration's bank bailout, Democrats' massive economic stimulus package, President Obama's health-care overhaul and other examples of what the GOP terms 'runaway spending'" (Montgomery, 10/27).
The Hill's Healthwatch Blog: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says Senate Republicans should "repeatedly offer bills to repeal health reform even if it's in vain." Others say full repeal isn't possible. "Retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who's the top GOP member in the Senate Budget Committee, said last week that repealing the bill wasn't realistic and that Republicans should focus on retooling the new reform law instead. Gregg's words rankled some conservatives, who worried the party will go soft on its promise to repeal health reform" (O'Brien, 10/26).
Kansas Health Institute: "In an interview with KHI News Service, [former Sen. Ted Kennedy policy staffer John] McDonough said after next week's elections it no longer will be enough for opponents to simply call for the repeal of 'Obamacare.' 'Let's say there is a Republican sweep of Congress, both branches, and there is a robust conversation next year about repealing it. At some point very quickly, it's going to come down to, "OK, so what do we repeal and what do we not repeal,"' McDonough said. Like other reform supporters, McDonough said he believes that the more people know about what's in the law, the less they want to see it struck from the books" (McLean, 10/27).
Politifact notes that "an ad in the Indiana Senate race makes the novel claim that seniors will now be forced into 'Barack Obama's government-run health care program.' That sounds scary until you realize that seniors are already in a government-run health care program, Medicare, and have been for 45 years. The ad is from Dan Coats, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth.... We asked the Coats campaign about this, and they said Medicare may have been a government-run health care program, but it wasn't Obama's until the health care law went into effect. ... The ad is capitalizing on confusion about the nature of the Medicare program and making a ridiculous claim" On its Truth-O-Meter, Politifact rated the ad "Pants on Fire," its worst category (Drobnic Holan, 10/27).
CQ Politics: Some TV stations are pulling ads they deem untrue. "At least two television stations in Connecticut and Colorado have yanked misleading attack ads in the last 24 hours financed by the conservative group American Action Network. Sophomore Rep. Chris Murphy (D), of Connecticut's 5th district, was the target of an ad taken off the air Monday night by Hartford's Fox affiliate. Among other accusations, the ad noted that the new health-care overhaul would force 'jail time for anyone without coverage'" (Peoples, 10/26).
(Minneapolis) Star Tribune reports that the group is run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. "Coleman's group has run a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against Senate and House candidates across the country, including against Rep. Tim Walz in the First District [in Minn.]. That ad is different than the two that were pulled" (Herb, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.