KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Cuts Become Hot Topic In Mid-Term Election Campaigns

The New York Times: Advertisements are focusing on Medicare cuts and using them as a "rallying point" to influence the election. "[T]he message, delivered by a series of nervous-looking older Americans, is uniform: Democratic Congressional candidates voted for billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare (or, if they were not in office, would have) and let their constituents down. From Florida to California, one of the most prevalent political advertisements this year accuses Democrats of slashing $500 billion from Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly, as part of the health care law passed by Congress last spring. Dozens of candidates have felt the heat." It's putting some Democrats, like Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio, in danger of losing their seats. The Times notes that "the way in which those cuts will be felt by the roughly 46 million Americans covered by the program does not quite align with the dark implications of the ads" (Steinhauer, 10/30).

CBS MoneyWatch: "Every election season, one party or another comes up with a scare-the-elderly issue. In the past, the Democrats have threatened that if Republicans won, they would do away with Social Security, leaving seniors to beg on street corners for stale crusts of bread. This year, the GOP is claiming that health care reform will 'gut' Medicare. If seniors don't vote their way, the poor dears will find themselves languishing on gurneys for months waiting to see their G.P.s. Typical is the claim of a TV spot from America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, that millions of seniors will see their Medicare slashed by Congress." CBS debunks that and other "scare stories" (Harris, 10/31).

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