KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Health Law, Mass. Overhaul Parallels Still A Flashpoint For Romney

The Massachusetts health law signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney is a hot topic on the campaign trail leading up to Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, new polling results indicate President Barack Obama's support among women voters is on the rise.

The Washington Post: In Ohio, Santorum Blasts Romney For Ad Spending, Says Voters Don't Trust Him
On health care, Santorum made the claim that Romney — because of his overhaul of Massachusetts' health-care system while governor, which included an individual mandate to purchase insurance — would not be able to take on President Obama on the matter. "Why would we put someone up who is uniquely unqualified to take him on this issue? You don't think it will be used against him? ... It will be a drumbeat. We will take an issue where we're on the offensive and turn it into a liability. I don't care how much money he has — don't let that happen, Ohio" (Sonmez, 3/5).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Voters Unsure Of Romney's Pledge To Repeal Health Care Law
Mitt Romney pledges on a near-daily basis to repeal President Barack Obama's health-care law. Republican voters just aren’t sure whether they believe him. At a town hall event here Monday, one his 2008 supporters asked the candidate to explain more about the fundamental differences between the health care plan he signed as governor of Massachusetts and the one Mr. Obama signed in 2010 (Murray, 3/5).

USA Today: Health Care Remains Lightning Rod For Romney
As the hours until voters head to the polls ticked away, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's health care law became a leading topic of discussion again with voters and among his political opponents. Romney's opponents have pounced on a 2009 op-ed he wrote for USA TODAY, brought to light by the website Buzzfeed last week. In the article, Romney said that at least part of his health care plan was exactly what the nation needed (Kucinich, 3/5).

Reuters: On "Super Tuesday," Romney And Santorum In Fierce Ohio Battle
[Santorum] sought to raise doubts about Romney in the final hours by focusing on the healthcare plan Romney developed as governor of Massachusetts and which Democrats say was the model for the overhaul adopted by Obama. Republicans, Romney included, want to repeal it. Santorum said the fact that the Romney plan formed the basis for the Democrats' effort justifies a rejection of Romney by Republicans because he would be weak on the issue in an election matchup with Obama on November 6 - "the weakest candidate we could possibly put forward" (Holland and Youngman, 3/6).

CBS: Santorum Likens Obama Administration To "Drug Dealer"
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum compared the Obama administration to a drug dealer who wants to get Americans hooked on entitlement programs to expand his power. Santorum said the president's health care law in a new addictive drug. "That's how they see you, as people, to get hooked like a drug dealer, someone to become dependent on them and once that happens, they got you," Santorum said during a speech to several hundred people at Grace Church late Sunday. "America is changed forever. No country that has socialized medicine has ever gone back the other way, no country that has lost its freedom has ever regained it" (Kaplan, 3/5).

Boston Globe: Romney Pushed Health Care Mandate In 2009 Article
Mitt Romney urged President Obama in 2009 to adopt an individual mandate as part of his national health care overhaul, according to an online news site that noted the former Massachusetts governor's op-ed article in USA Today. Romney also exhorted Obama in the USA Today article to use the "lessons we learned in Massachusetts"’ when it comes to the issue of health care. As governor, Romney signed into law health care changes that, in part, required individuals to buy insurance (Jan, 3/5).

Politico: Obama's Support Among Women Increases
Obama has gained support among white and suburban women. In both groups, the president is up to a 45 percent approval rating from 40 percent in December. Overall among women, approval for the president rose to 54 percent versus 40 percent disapproval. In December, both his overall approval and disapproval among women were 47 percent. The increase comes as the battle over the president's contraceptive mandate has reached a fever pitch but also corresponds to growing confidence in the economy. Obama's overall approval rating is up to 50 percent, the poll finds, and in a matchup against his lead Republican rival Mitt Romney, the survey finds that Obama would win 50 percent to 44 percent (Nocera, 3/5).

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