Campaign Claims Examined As Some Democrats Embrace Health Law In Re-Election BidsKaiser Health News/The Washington Post analyze myths and facts in the congressional campaigns. "The debate that preceded passage of the health-care overhaul resumed as a heated issue in the midterm elections. Politicians and advocacy groups seeking repeal of the law are making dramatic claims about its cost and effects." Claims examined include whether the law is a "government takeover" of the insurance market, how steep cuts to Medicare will be and whether seniors will lose benefits or be able to keep their doctors, among others (Appleby and Aizenman, 10/19).
In the meantime, The Associated Press reports on something so rare that "it makes news: A few Democratic candidates have started to run television ads daring to defend President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Most Democrats are trying to avoid campaigning on what should have been the party's signature issue, but the lonely bunch who've stuck their necks out may finally be hitting on a message. Some are using constituents to vouch for specific benefits that only recently took effect, changes whose poll-tested popularity isn't in question." Democrats are having a tough time defending a law that doesn't see the bulk of its reforms enacted until 2014. "There's no authoritative tally of the ads run by Democrats on health care, but a rough count suggests that those who voted against the law are advertising it more than those who supported its hard-fought passage. At least a dozen Democrats have taken pains in their ads to remind constituents that they voted 'No.'" Still other Democrats are attempting to link Republican opponents to the health insurance industry (10/19).
Politico: "An ad for Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) says that she 'led the fight to stop' insurance companies. Rep. Scott Murphy's (D-N.Y.) [ad] warns that his opponent 'would let insurance companies go back to denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.'" Moderates continue to talk about the bill but have done so only in touting their no votes if they made them. "But Democrats were buoyed by a series of insurance industry restrictions that went into effect on Sept. 23. Most of the new ads focus on those provisions, including the ban on denying consumers because of pre-existing conditions and guaranteeing coverage of children. They've become some of the most popular pieces of the legislation" (Haberkorn and Smith, 10/19).
Kaiser Health News, in "Health on the Hill," reports that Democrats are talking about their fights for re-election and the health law in new ways, by telling voters to let them go or stay in Washington to fix parts of the health bill they don't like (Carey, Rovner and Judd, 10/18).
CongressDaily: Democrats are also pitching Medicare in their appeal to voters. "In stump speeches and television and radio spots across the country, Democrats want to paint their more conservative opponents as would-be Medicare-killers, pushing an agenda to privatize or otherwise alter the popular health coverage for seniors. If successful, Democrats could sway seniors who are either on the fence over reform or leaning to the political right in an effort to tame some of the daunting poll numbers they face heading into the November elections." In a poll, seniors are more likely to say the health law will be a bigger factor than younger voters in how they vote next month in the midterm elections (DoBias, 10/18).
In Missouri, the St. Louis Beacon reports that the "Missouri Foundation for Health released a poll this month showing that Missourians who are likely to vote Nov. 2 are concerned about rising health care costs, and they have misgivings about making too many changes in the existing system. The main concerns that cause voters to be leery of reforms, the poll showed, include criticism, valid or not, that Medicare would be cut, causing seniors to suffer. A second concern, the poll showed, is that the nation would be unable to sustain the new spending and the costs growing out of mandates in the law." Many still favor parts of the new law, the poll adds (Joiner, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.