KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Iowa Poll: Voters More Accepting Of Obama Health Care Policies; Romney ‘Recalibrating’ Health Message

News outlets reported that a new poll finds Iowa voters more favorable to President Obama's views on Medicare and health care than Mitt Romney's. Meanwhile, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan previews Romney's efforts in Wednesday's debate, which will include health care, and Vice President Biden campaigned in Florida, appealing to seniors by criticizing the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare.

Des Moines Register/USA Today: Poll: Obama Leads In Iowa, But Romney Has Path
Seven months ago, Iowa was a trouble spot for Obama. More Iowa adults disapproved of the job he was doing as president (48%) than approved (46%). ... (Now) Obama leads Romney by 6 or more percentage points in voters' perceptions of his ability to determine the future of Medicare, health care and tax policy, and to handle relations with other countries as well as military engagement in Afghanistan and tension in the Middle East. ... Meanwhile, he's upside down on his job approval on health care and the economy. Obamacare is not helping him, but perceptions have improved since February (Jacobs, 9/29).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Poll: Iowans Find Ryan Valuable To GOP Ticket
When the Romney campaign sends vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to campaign in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday, it will be dispatching someone viewed by likely voters here as an asset to the ticket. ... Fifty-six percent of likely Iowa voters think Ryan, known as a resolute budget cutter and staunch conservative, benefits the Romney ticket, a new Iowa Poll shows. Thirty-six percent think he’s a liability (Jacobs, 9/29).

The Hill: Ryan: Obama Running On Division, Distraction And Distortion
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will argue in the first debate that President Obama has taken the nation in the wrong direction and the GOP is offering the best choice for voters, Paul Ryan said in an interview on Fox News Sunday (Needham, 9/30).

Politico: Ryan On Debates: No One Event Makes A Campaign
As for a debate message, Ryan said Romney would focus on creating a clear choice between the two candidate's policies: "Stagnation versus growth, dependency versus opportunity and upward mobility." Fox host Chris Wallace pointed out this was a shift in messaging from being a "the referendum on Barack Obama's record," to which Ryan called it a new "phase." "It's not a change in strategy, it's a phase of the campaign we've now entered into. Because I think it's important. The president is trying to paper over his problems," Ryan said (Rosche, 9/30).

The New York Times: Romney, Appealing To Wider Audience, Recalibrates Message
Candidates who emerge from competitive primaries — as Mr. Romney did — often find themselves forced to recalibrate messages and proposals initially aimed at partisan primary voters to appeal to more moderate general election voters. ... when Mr. Romney was asked in an interview with NBC News this week how he could better connect with Americans, he pointed out: “Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured.” At a rally that same day, Mr. Romney renewed his call to repeal the president’s health care law (Cooper, 9/28).

Meanwhile, the vice presidential candidates offered some sharp contrasts this weekend.

ABC News: Ahead Of Debate, Paul Ryan Takes On Joe Biden
Less than two weeks before Paul Ryan and Joe Biden face off on the debate stage, Paul Ryan took on his counterpart on the issues of Social Security and Medicare. ... "They’re trying to scare people for political gain. That’s unfortunately the kind of campaign that we’re seeing, as I said with a president without a record to run on. Let me be very clear: There is only one person in this race threatening the health and retirement security programs of our seniors and that is President Obama. There is only one person in this race insisting on raising taxes and that is President Obama. In fact, Joe Biden himself voted to raise taxes on social security benefits and as a senator, President Obama voted to keep those tax increases in place three times" (Walshe, 9/29).

The Associated Press: Biden, 69, Seeks Florida Seniors' Vote For Obama
Joe Biden may just be the perfect pitchman for the senior vote. Seeing Medicare as a window to gain new support, President Barack Obama's campaign dispatched the vice president to two sprawling Florida retirement communities Friday, hoping a white-haired 69-year-old running mate will be able to stir enthusiasm among seniors in Democrat-rich South Florida and tip the scales for the state's 29 electoral votes (Sedensky, 9/28).

ABC News: Biden Courts Seniors, Blasts Romney-Ryan On Social Security, Medicare 
He argued that that Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would turn Medicare into “vouchercare” and increase the direct costs seniors would have to bear. “Rather than tell you, since their convention or even at their convention, what their position on Medicare is, they’ve gone out of the way and spent tens of millions – I don’t know maybe hundreds, I don’t know how much, millions of dollars – on advertising telling you what they say our position on Medicare is,” Biden said. “All of you in this room know that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare today by the action he took" (Saenz, 9/28).

Los Angeles Times: Joe Biden To Florida Seniors: Mitt Romney Would Threaten Medicare
Biden has long been hammering the Republicans on Medicare, which he continued to do here by tying Romney to the plan once offered by his vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. As he acknowledged that Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has revised his initial plan, Biden said the debate gets to the issue of "someone's credibility" (Memoli, 9/28).

Fox News: Biden Attacks Romney's Plans For Entitlement Programs
The vice president said the “press accurately points out” that he cites Ryan budget numbers to hit Romney, but Biden doubled down on his offensive, saying it’s a “fair” argument. ... “Can you imagine the president supporting a plan that would, under any circumstances, would raise the cost for seniors $6,400 your out-of-pocket?” he said, referring to a CBO estimate of the difference between projected health care costs in 2022 and the premium-support subsidy for an average 65-year-old proposed by House Republicans. As voices from the crowd shouted “No!” Biden continued, “So press, that’s why I raise it" (Lin, 9/28).

NBC News: In Florida, Biden Assails Romney-Ryan Ticket Over Medicare, Social Security Taxes
[The vice president] did face persistent questioning on the Obama administration's health care plan when he stopped at Nestor's, a Jewish deli in Boca Raton. Steve Grossman, a 39-year-old who said he worked in the financial services industry, approached Biden as he sat down to order a tuna salad platter and began asking about health insurance costs. The vice president initially seemed reluctant to answer ... but he ended up offering a description of state-based health care exchanges more fitting for a think tank roundtable than a deli (Dann, 9/28).

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