KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Care Politics: Republican Messages Examined, How State Propositions Evolved

PolitiFact/St. Petersburg Times evaluated Republican claims in campaign ads about Medicare and the new health law that are "targeting older voters who may be worried their Medicare benefits will be harmed." Such ads are airing in Florida, Pennsylvania and California. "PolitiFact found each of those attacks to be Barely True. In these attacks and many others, PolitiFact found the ads have taken a small amount of truth - the Democratic incumbent's vote in favor of the health care law - and exaggerated the impact. The $500 billion in 'cuts' is really the reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years, and it's intended to make the program more efficient. The law also includes new benefits for Medicare that would improve quality" (Drobnic Holan, 10/11).

The Washington Independent reports that the American Legislative Exchange Council, "a conservative 501(c)(3) nonprofit that brings together state legislators and representatives of major industries to craft 'model legislation'" helped turn talk of health care reform's repeal into a "national wave."

"In early August, an obscure measure called Proposition C - which prohibits the government from mandating the purchase of health insurance - passed overwhelmingly in a Missouri referendum and soon became national news. ... There are conflicting accounts of how the measure came to be introduced in 38 state legislatures, and enacted in six. One side will tell you that the health care industry - particularly the pharmaceutical companies that sit on ALEC's Health and Human Services task force - is taking potshots at reform by manipulating state representatives; the other describes grassroots anger bubbling up to the attention of legislators" (Zwick, 10/12).

On the messaging front, The Hill: "House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned Monday that Democrats should expect no funding to implement their new healthcare reform law if Republicans win the House in November. … Boehner acknowledged that an outright repeal of the healthcare law - a key rallying point of many GOP campaigns this year - is unlikely with President Obama wielding veto power from the White House. Still, the funding for many of the reforms will require approval from the House as part of the annual budget process. If Republicans control the chamber, Boehner warned, Democrats shouldn't hold their breath for the money" (Lillis, 10/11).

The Hill reports in a separate story that health lobbyists are looking to repair their relationships with Republicans ahead of possible gains the GOP might make in November. "The health industry's effort to make nice with Republicans is both reflective of how Washington works and how much the political winds have shifted since Barack Obama's inauguration early last year. House Republicans felt shunned by their allies in the medical sector in 2009 as Democrats basked in their electoral victories that gave them control of Congress and the White House since 1994. Nearly two years after Obama's triumph and six months after the passage of health reform, the mood in the nation's capital and beyond has changed dramatically" (Pecquet, 10/12).

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