Politics Of Health Care Reform Infiltrating Campaigns
With Labor Day weekend the traditional start of intense campaigning, some news coverage focused on health care.
Politico: "A handful of House Democrats are making health care reform an election year issue - by running against it. At least five of the 34 House Democrats who voted against their party's health care reform bill are highlighting their 'no' votes in ads back home. ... it appears that no Democratic incumbent - in the House or in the Senate - has run a pro-reform TV ad since April, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ran one. Most of the Democrats running ads highlighting their opposition to the law are in conservative-leaning districts and considered the most endangered. They're using their vote against the overhaul as proof of their willingness to buck party leadership and their commitment to watching the nation's debt" (Haberkorn, 9/5).
The Miami Herald did a "fact check" on charges by Republican Marco Rubio about one of his rivals for the Senate seat, current Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent: "we wanted to explore whether Crist has taken 'six different positions'' on the healthcare law. ... March 21: Crist said he's against the bill and favors repeal. July 20: Crist said he doesn't support repealing the bill and wants to modify it. July 29: Crist again said he would have voted against the bill and wants to modify it. Aug. 27, noon: Crist said he would have voted for the bill. Aug. 27, 2 p.m.: Crist said he would have voted against the bill" (Sherman, 9/5).
Politics Daily: "Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln doesn't have to close a small gap in her race against Republican Rep. John Boozman. She has a cavern to conquer. Some polls show the incumbent senator down by 40 points heading into the fall midterm election. ... Last week, Lincoln was the first to hit the airwaves with two commercials. Boozman has yet to air an ad." In one ad, Lincoln says: "Unlike John, I'm against privatizing Social Security and Medicare."
"Boozman has said that he is not for privatizing Social Security or Medicare. Boozman did support a plan by former President George W. Bush that would have allowed people to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. He has voted for bills that included cuts to Medicare. He adamantly denies wanting to cut benefits for seniors. ... Lincoln's other ad, 'Better for Arkansas' directly addresses her controversial health care vote, saying that she works to find balance in the Senate" (Parker, 9/3).
(Allentown, Penn.) Morning Call: "Friends of U.S. Senate candidates Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey recently bought air time in Pennsylvania aiming to scare the state's elderly voters. Sestak, a Democrat, voted with President Barack Obama to cut Medicare benefits for seniors, one TV spot says. Toomey, a Republican, wants to take away people's Social Security and put it in the stock market, another says. ... Pennsylvania has more senior citizens than the national average, according to the latest U.S. Census estimate. ... While it's advantageous for both camps to court the over-65 population, the ads that ran on the candidates' behalf make misleading claims" (Itkowitz, 9/3).
Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Penn., visited two senior centers in his district this week, according to the Standard Speaker. One of the visits "prompted his Republican opponent, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, to accuse him of lying about the future of Medicare. Kanjorski told his Plains audience the new health care reform law does not cut Medicare benefits 'in any way.' Barletta's campaign pointed out that Rep. Tim Holden, D-17, St. Clair, said he voted against the bill because it 'makes significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.'"
"'There are two options here - either Kanjorski is lying or Kanjorski is calling Rep. Holden a liar,'" Barletta spokesman Shawn Kelly said. In response, Kanjorski's campaign pointed to an AARP fact sheet that says the 'new law extends the financial soundness of the program by 12 years, to 2029' and 'no one will lose Medicare coverag'" (Krawczeniuk, 9/4).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.