KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Assessing The Possible Impact Of Obamacare On Nov. Elections

A variety of news organizations analyzed what might happen in the fall, because of political campaigns built around the health law.  

Politico: The Obamacare Enthusiasm Gap
Irony alert: The Democrats’ biggest challenge this fall is to get their voters excited about a law that they asked for. Obamacare will be a huge voting issue for Republicans — that’s already clear. They’ll turn out in droves because they hate the law. What’s less clear is how Democrats will get their supporters to the polls to say, “hey, thanks for health reform” (Nather, 3/31).

Politico: Dems Try To Keep Hope Alive With ACA Mantra
According to administration officials, Democrats on Capitol Hill and other strategists who’ve been in touch with the White House, President Barack Obama’s team is sure the health care law’s problems will fade in people’s minds by November, months after the website rollout. They believe the intense attacks Republicans are using to stoke their own base won’t completely depress Democratic turnout. And they’re confident that independents will see the GOP’s 50 votes to repeal all or parts of Obamacare as a sign of Washington dysfunction (Dovere, 3/31).

The Washington Post: Democrats, Republicans Prepare For New Round Of Battles Over Health-Care Law
Supporters face an array of political, financial and legal challenges in the coming months. ... In the months and years ahead, other questions will loom: How will Americans react when they get fined next year for not having insurance? Will more states expand Medicaid under the law? And will the federal courts make future changes to the law, including barring the use of government subsidies to help pay for coverage in the federal marketplace? (Eilperin, Goldstein and Somashekhar, 3/30).

The Associated Press: Health Law Legacy Eludes Obama As Changes Sink In
As a roller-coaster sign-up season winds down, President Barack Obama's health care law has indeed managed to change the country. Americans are unlikely to go back to a time when people with medical problems could be denied coverage. But Obama's overhaul needs major work of its own if it is to go down in history as a legacy achievement like Medicare or Social Security (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/29).

The Associated Press: GOP Challenger Is The Focus In Colo. Senate Race
The Senate race in Colorado has shot toward the top of the nation’s most competitive contests this midterm election year, giving the Democratic incumbent a tougher battle than he expected and Republicans a new pickup opportunity in their drive to win the chamber’s majority. Sen. Mark Udall responded to Rep. Cory Gardner’s surprise challenge by quickly trying to define his opponent as an extremist. ... As Gardner scrambles to raise money and assemble a campaign staff, his allies have hammered Udall’s support for President Barack Obama’s health care law (Riccardi, 3/29).

The Washington Post: Senate Democrats Struggle To Define A Message That Can Save Their Majority
Democrats are going into the 2014 midterm elections with their control of the Senate greatly imperiled and with the prospect of an Obama presidency completely hobbled in its final two years. In response, the president and his party are struggling to come up with a broad economic message that can rebut, or at least deflect, the continued GOP assaults on the president and his new health-care law (Tumulty and Kane, 3/29).

CBS News: Clock Winds Down On Enrollment But Not On Obamacare's Political Fight
March 31 has finally arrived, and with it comes the last official day for people to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange websites.  The deadline, of course, isn't a hard one: the administration announced last week that people who started to apply for health insurance by the deadline but didn't finish the process will still be able to get coverage. Just as enrollment doesn't close for good on Monday, the fight over Obamacare will hardly be settled by the coming and going of the end of the month (Kaplan, 3/31).

Fox News: Debate Over ObamaCare Far From Over As Signup Deadline Arrives
The deadline to sign up for ObamaCare technically is Monday, but the roiling, years-long debate about enrollment numbers and practically every other aspect of President Obama’s signature health care law appears far from over in this politically charged election year. ... On Sunday, ObamaCare supporters were on television championing the law’s recent successes, particularly the late-enrollment surges, including 1.2 million visitors Saturday to the federal site. Some who have trouble signing up by Monday will also be given extra time (3/31).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Changes Illegal, McMorris Rodgers Says 
President Barack Obama is "picking and choosing" how the 2010 health-care law will be implemented and "doesn't have the flexibility" legally to do so, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers said. Asked if she was saying such changes to the law are illegal, McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington state, replied, "Yes, I am" (Wallbank, 3/29).

Miami Herald: PolitiFact: Rick Scott's Political Committee Says Obamacare Has Led To 300,000 Health Plans Canceled
A new TV attack ad against former Gov. Charlie Crist zeroes in on Crist’s support for Obamacare.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, unveiled the ad March 24. Scott’s campaign said it will spend $2 million on the statewide ad, which started running on Thursday. The ad repeats snippets of Crist’s March 9 interview on CNN when he called Obamacare "great." ... Scott’s TV ad says, "300,000 health plans canceled," attributing the number to news reports. ... The statement has an element of truth but leaves out important details, so we rate this claim Mostly False (Sherman, 3/30).

Meanwhile, several polls give a glimpse of what voters are thinking.

The Associated Press: Poll: Obama Health Law Fails To Gain Support
Despite a late surge in sign-ups, support for President Barack Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll. The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act. Yet even fewer — 13 percent — think it will be completely repealed. A narrow majority expects the law to be further implemented with minor changes, or as passed (Alonso-Zaldivar and Junius, 3/30).

Christian Science Monitor: Obamacare Launch: What Americans Like About The Law, And What They Don't 
A narrow majority of US adults say they oppose the law, which is designed to reduce the number of people who lack health insurance, according to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted this week. ... The results, when viewed alongside other polls about "Obamacare," show the broad political challenge that the president and Democrats face regarding the law. Even though particular elements of the Affordable Care Act are popular – as is its broad goal of expanding access to health care – the financial math is a sticking point (Trumbull, 3/28).


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.