KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Massachusetts Senate Race Tightens Over Health Care Reform

The Washington Post explores the dynamics of the campaign for the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. "With polls showing the race a dead heat - a Suffolk University survey released Thursday night had (Republican Scott) Brown up by 4 points (over Democrat Martha Coakley), at the edge of the margin of error - national Democratic organizations are scrambling to hold on to the 60th Senate vote crucial to the health-care overhaul being negotiated in Washington and to every other initiative of President Obama" (Vick, 1/15).

Brown's campaign could become a "template for Republican challengers across the country in this year's midterm elections" by focusing on the health care effort, The Boston Globe reports. "'He's making health care a front-and-center issue in the most liberal state in the country, and it's working for him,' said Whit Ayres, who cofounded Resurgent Republic, a group of conservative pollsters and strategists formed to shape the national debate. … (Brown) has called for Congress to 'go back to the drawing board' and come up with a new plan. And he has capitalized on speculation about whether Democrats might try to delay his confirmation if he wins in order to ram the health bill through, stoking concerns about transparency and fairness raised by special deals Democratic leaders made last year to entice fence-sitters to vote for the bill" (Wangsness, 1/15).

The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama and the family of Edward M. Kennedy pushed Thursday to keep a Democrat in the late senator's seat and protect a 60th vote needed to pass the health care bill that would be Kennedy's legacy." Obama released a recorded video urging voters to support Coakley. "'They believe that by defeating Martha, and replacing Ted Kennedy with her Republican opponent, they'll be in a position to tie up the Senate and prevent a vote on health insurance reform, financial reform and other issues so important to working families in Massachusetts and the nation,' Obama said. 'The outcome of these fights will probably rest on one vote in the Senate'" (Johnson, 1/14).

Roll Call: In the poll by Suffolk University taken this week "Likely voters were split on whether they favor the Democrats' health care proposal - 47 percent favored and 48 percent opposed" (Cadei, 1/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.