Public Backing For Health Overhaul Wanes As Obama Administration Prepares For MidtermsKaiser Health News: Public support for the new health law slipped in August, "a development sure to stir concerns among the Obama administration and congressional Democrats seeking to shore up support for the law in the months leading up to the mid-term elections." The latest poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 43 percent of Americans viewed the law favorably, which is down from 50 percent in July. "That means public opinion is back to where it was in May, despite months of effort by the administration to talk up the benefits of the new law." Health care remains a distant second to the economy as the two biggest issues respondents hope to hear about from congressional candidates ahead of midterm elections in the poll, however (Kaiser Health News is a program of the Foundation) (McGinley, 8/31).
Politico: Opposition to the law rose 10 points to 45 percent. "Democrats said throughout the year-long debate on Capitol Hill that support for the overhaul would increase once the bill passed and Americans were able to take advantage of some of its benefits. But it appears voters' opinions of the legislation were set more firmly than anyone thought during the bruising political fight. Forty-two percent of respondents said health care reform will play an 'extremely important' role in their ballot-box decisions, on par with the 41 percent who said the same thing in June" (Haberkorn, 8/31).
The New York Times: In the meantime, the White House, in trying to to sell the law, is touting Medicare rebates the law began giving seniors. On Monday the Obama administration announced that "more than one million Medicare beneficiaries had received $250 rebate checks as part of the provision to close the gap in prescription drug coverage known as the doughnut hole." The administration expects to give 4 million of the checks out. Republicans, however, began Monday a week-long push to repeal the law, which they've been engaged in since the moment the law passed. "Republicans, who created the Medicare prescription drug benefit when they controlled Congress in 2003, have said that the new law ultimately will raise rather than lower health care costs in the United States and will impose an unconstitutional mandate requiring all Americans to purchase health insurance" (Herszenhorn, 8/30).
ABC News: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that "the sustained opposition to the Democrats' health care reform efforts has mainly been a function of 'misinformation. Unfortunately there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in [the reform law] and what isn't,' Sebelius told ABC News Radio on Monday" (Portnoy, 8/31).
Candidates running for office this fall, however, are busy working around health care as an issue or using it to their advantage in races around America. AARP Bulletin reports that " Senate seats are at stake, there are races for governor in nearly 40 states, and all of the seats in the House of Representatives are at stake. And the issues are as big as ever: Social Security, Medicare, health insurance reform, the federal deficit and immigration top the list of concerns" (Povich, 8/30).
Health News Florida: In Florida, U.S. Senate candidates Democrat Kendrick Meek, Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist are sparring over the health law. "Responding to a reporter's question about opposition among some seniors to the law, Meek responded, 'What's the alternative?' He also said the law needs to be fully implemented during the six-year term of whichever candidate gets elected to the Senate. Meek's comments, made during a press briefing in Tallahassee, came three days after Crist caused a stir by saying in a television interview that he would have supported the health-care overhaul - only to issue a retraction hours later." Both Rubio and Meek are criticizing Crist for the move (Saunders, 8/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.