KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Health Care Attacks Escalate As Candidates Make Final Push Before Caucuses

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton says opponent Bernie Sanders' health care plan will "never, ever come to pass," and targets Republican Ted Cruz over his lack of a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, Sanders defends his proposals from critics who call them unrealistic. And STAT looks at how Americans' health care has become the defining battle between the two candidates.

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Criticizes Bernie Sanders And Ted Cruz On Healthcare
Making her final push before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton staked out her position as the lone defender of the Affordable Care Act on Saturday night, warning that her Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, would scrap it and start over and that Republicans would hand healthcare back to insurers and drug-makers. While she tends to lump Republicans with Donald J. Trump these days, Mrs. Clinton made clear that she is also paying attention to Senator Ted Cruz. (Rappeport, 1/30)

The New York Times: Hillary Clinton Says Bernie Sanders’s Health Plan Will ‘Never, Ever Come to Pass’
Hillary Clinton said on Friday that Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health care system would thrust the nation into “a terrible, terrible national debate” and would “never, ever come to pass.” “People can’t wait,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally here on Friday, evoking a sense of urgency and echoing an argument from her most recent campaign ads. “People with health emergencies can’t wait for us to have some theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.” (Chozick, 1/29)

The Associated Press: In Final Iowa Blitz, An Outraged Clinton Channels Sanders
Seeking victory in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has begun channeling the economic indignation of her rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose unapologetically liberal campaign has tightened the race ahead of Monday's caucuses and given him a lead in the New Hampshire contest that follows. Making her closing argument to Iowa caucus-goers, Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders' outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing "burns" her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her "pretty riled up." And she promises to "rail away" at any industry that flouts the law. (Lerer and Thomas, 1/31)

The Wall Street Journal: Bernie Sanders Defends Liberal Ambitions Amid Rival’s Attacks
Sen. Bernie Sanders directly responded Saturday to critics who say his expansive plans are unrealistic, comparing his drive to take on Wall Street and income inequality to American movements to win equality for African-Americans, women, gay people and those with disabilities. “Some people say, ‘Well this is an ambitious agenda, it can’t happen,’” Mr. Sanders told a rally in Manchester, Iowa, two days before Iowans cast the first votes in the race for the presidency. “Really? Really? Why not? Why can’t it happen? Because we don’t have the courage to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies and Wall Street and corporate America and the corporate media? Is that why it can’t happen? I don’t believe that.” (Meckler, 1/31)

STAT: How Drug Price And Single Payer Define The Democratic Battle For Iowa
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both devote a good chunk of their stump speeches to the problem of rising prescription drug prices — but their solutions are vastly different. For Clinton, the answer is to treat drug costs as the next big challenge to be tackled with policy tweaks that build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act. For Sanders, drug costs are the reason for a complete overhaul that transitions to a whole new system: single-payer health care. (Scott, 2/1)

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz goes after Donald Trump's health care plan, saying it is merely a continuation of the Affordable Care Act —

The Wall Street Journal: Trump, Cruz Trade Barbs
The two leading Republican presidential candidates traded personal criticisms during Sunday’s talk shows, a day before Iowa holds its first-in-the-nation nominating contest. ... Mr. Cruz also criticized Mr. Trump, saying his health-care policies amounted to a continuation of the Democratic-backed Affordable Care Act. “If Donald Trump is elected president, the federal government will be in charge of every one of our health care,” he said. On ABC later Sunday morning, Mr. Trump responded: “Ted Cruz is a total liar.” Mr. Trump said that he opposes the Affordable Care Act and the idea of a single-payer health-care system, but that he also believes the government should help poor people who can’t buy health insurance. (Tracy, 1/31)

The Washington Post: Iowan Asks Ted Cruz What Will Happen If He Repeals Obamacare
His voice quavering with emotion, Mike Valde told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) about his brother-in-law: He was a barber who couldn’t afford health care until the Affordable Care Act, and after getting coverage he went to the doctor for the first time in years, and was diagnosed with multiple tumors. He died soon after. “Mark never had health care until Obamacare,” Valde told Cruz in a middle school cafeteria here. “What are you going to replace it with?” (Zezima, 1/30)

And The New York Times makes its endorsements —

Fox News: New York Times Endorses Clinton, Kasich
The board said [John] Kasich, also endorsed by the liberal-leaning Boston Globe, was “not moderate” but said he was “capable of compromise” and acknowledged his efforts to expand ObamaCare in Ohio through expanded Medicaid. (1/30)

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