Support For Health Law Dips, GOP Aims To Seize Opportunity
Politico reports that support among the public for the health overhaul dipped during the last month, even as the "percentage of Democrats who say they'll go to the polls to defend the law rose. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation October Tracking Poll out Monday morning, overall support for the law has dropped to 42 percent - down seven points in a month (Kaiser Health News is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation). The percentage of those saying they have an unfavorable view of the bill rose four points to 44 percent." Democrats are also more encouraged to vote - a number which stands now at 37 percent, up from 30 percent in the last poll. (Haberkorn, 10/18).
Read the details of the KFF October tracking poll.
CQ Politics/Roll Call: GOP doctors are hoping that they can make gains in Congress. One such candidate is ophthalmologist Marianette Miller-Meeks, who is running for Congress in Iowa. "[S]he is part of a larger group of Republican physicians who are hoping to bring their medical expertise to Capitol Hill. It began as an even larger group, as a few doctors lost in Republican primaries. South Dakota surgeon and state Rep. Blake Curd, for example, lost to fellow state Rep. Kristi Noem in the GOP primary for the chance to face Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D). Quite a few Republican doctors are making strong challenges, especially in House races. But as health care takes a back seat to the economy on the campaign trail, these candidates say they are trying to find ways to build expertise on other issues" (Miller, 10/17).
The Associated Press: With Rep. Bart Stupak - who helped Democrats pass the health law - deciding to retire, the GOP hopes to take his seat too. The candidates are "Dan Benishek, a surgeon and political novice, who is the Republican nominee" and "Gary McDowell, a hay farmer and three-term member of the state House," who is a Democrat. "Benishek also pledges to repeal the health care law, saying the U.S. system is the world's best and needs only 'fine tuning' to boost competition among private insurers and reduce costs. But McDowell defends the Obama plan, which was in danger of failing until Stupak delivered a handful of votes from House Democrats who had feared it would allow federal funding of abortions" (Flesher, 10/17).
Meanwhile, the election results could change the GOP's dynamics in the upper chamber.
The Wall Street Journal: "The Senate is likely next year to see the largest group of strong conservatives enter the chamber since 1995" and "the tea-party activists pressing them say they view their initial mandate narrowly: Cut federal spending significantly, even in defense programs, and block the health-care law." Several GOP nominees for the Senate also want to turn Medicare into a voucher program and want to repeal the health law (Weisman, 10/18).
Democrats, in the meantime, are pushing a new message to voters that they can fix the health law.
Politico: "'I want to reform it and fix it and make sure that it works for small businesses and their families,' Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat seeking President Barack Obama's old Senate seat, said on 'Meet the Press' on Sunday." Others have sounded a similar tone, including Gov. Joe Manchin, a candidate for Senate in West Virginia and Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway. "'Is the bill perfect? Absolutely not,' Rep. Brad Ellsworth said during a debate with other Indiana Senate candidates Monday. 'Will it be added to and deleted from? It will.' North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy told one local newspaper last month that 'improvements need to be made' in the bill. Then he followed up by telling another paper that 'none of us believe our work is done or that the bill is perfect.'" Other Democrats aren't keen on the new message including DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and other leadership aides (Kliff, 10/16).
The Associated Press/The Washington Post: "Democrats are dearly hoping history won't repeat itself. In 1966, after Democrats created Medicare and Medicaid and passed civil rights laws, they got hammered in the election, losing 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate. They maintained their majorities in both at the time, but an identical result next month would turn the House over to Republicans." Some are drawing comparisons between when Medicare was enacted to the new health law and what it could mean for politics in America. "The 1960s were a time of upheaval, and Medicare only arrived after a bitter debate echoing with cries from the right that socialism was on the march in America. Yet people had a lot more faith in government to do the right thing, polls from that time indicate. And Medicare grew to be so popular that Republicans, the party that resisted it, have been quick to accuse Democrats of trying to cut it when they proposed to slow its growth and use the savings to help provide medical care to millions who lack health insurance" (Abrams, 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.