KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Campaign Buzz: Obama, Romney Vie For Swing Voters

In the background, news outlets break down some of the policy specifics in play regarding Medicare and other health issues -- and how candidates' efforts to control the debate are playing among voters.

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Targets Obama Voters
Mitt Romney is putting a new emphasis on visiting counties that voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, as he urges Republicans in swing states to help him push the president's supporters to switch sides. … As Mr. Romney tweaks his message to appeal to more centrist voters, he must contend with positions he took as he fought for the Republican nomination, such as his vows to defund Planned Parenthood and his plan to restructure Medicare. At one point this year, Mr. Romney told voters that he had been a "severely conservative" governor of Massachusetts (Nelson and O’Connor, 10/9).

The New York Times: Obama Campaign Tells Supporters: Steady On
Big Bird was part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama and his team to reassure supporters — many of whom were confident a week ago that the election was all but assured — that his campaign had not lost its intensity or focus. By later in the day, Mr. Obama was delivering a spirited campaign appearance in Columbus, Ohio, his aides were reaching out to big donors with a calming message that they had always expected a tight finish, and the campaign had released new ads in battleground states on issues like potential cuts to Medicaid (Rutenberg and Zeleny, 10/9).

And on Medicare policies and how they are playing -

CQ HealthBeat: The Medicare Conundrum
The future of Medicare lines up with the economy as one of the hottest topics in this year's presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney accuses President Obama of stealing money from the program to pay for parts of his 2010 health care law. Obama says the GOP plan would "end Medicare as we know it." ... The two men are courting voters 65 and older with essentially the same message: "The other guy wants to change your Medicare. I won't do that. Vote for me." In fact, both candidates do want to change Medicare, recognizing that something needs to be done to address the financial crisis facing the half-century-old health care program for the elderly and disabled. At the same time, neither wants to mess with the benefits so dear to the hearts of a demographic group that has a reputation for showing up at the polls (Ethridge, 10/9).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Cutting Through The Political Fog: Romney, Ryan, Obama And Medicare's Fiscal Future
Politicians and policy specialists alike are debating whether instituting a premium support system (Romney’s plan) or maintaining the current system and finding other ways to reduce costs and make health care delivery more efficient (Obama’s plan) would be more advantageous for the economy and beneficiaries. However, health care experts seem to agree that the political debate is clouding the issue at best (Adamopoulos, 10/9).

The Boston Globe: Future Seniors May See Benefits Tied To Means Testing
Mitt Romney wants to save Social Security and Medicare partly by cutting benefits for higher-income recipients. President Obama also sees wealthy Americans as part of the solution but suggests instead raising their premiums or payroll taxes. The fact that both presidential candidates back some form of so-called "means testing" suggests that millions of future seniors will probably end up paying more, or getting fewer benefits — no matter who wins the White House (Kranish, 10/10).

Politico: Paul Ryan Plan Not The Weapon House Dems Had Expected
Democrats could barely contain their glee when Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate in August. The Wisconsin congressman's controversial Medicare plan would be an anvil around the necks of Republicans nationwide, they insisted — a "majority maker" for the party, in the words of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel. Two months later, that's turned out to be mostly wishful thinking (Isenstadt, 10/9).

WNYC: NJ Poll Shows Mixed Views On Health Care Issues
A majority of New Jersey voters supports President Barack Obama's health care reforms, wants Medicare to stay as is and wants the state to expand Medicaid, according to a new poll commissioned by WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. The poll conducted by the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University found nearly six in 10 voters support the Supreme Court's decision upholding "Obamacare." Even larger numbers of New Jerseyans support Medicare, with only 25 percent supporting the kind of privatization that Republican challenger Mitt Romney supports (Solomon, 10/10).

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