KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Democrats, Republicans Vie To Claim Public Opinion About Health Reform

News outlets are focusing on politicians' efforts to boost or oppose the health reform law.

USA Today: "A week after Congress passed President Obama's 10-year, $938 billion health care plan, lawmakers from both parties are spending their spring break trying to turn the historic legislation to their political advantage. At stake are the large majorities Democrats have built up over the past two elections, including a 76-vote margin in the House and an 18-vote cushion in the Senate." Nearly ¾ of Americans "now say Congress should take another crack at writing the law, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll this week shows. Half of those respondents think lawmakers should repeal it. However, more people in the poll believe that under the law Americans' overall health and health care coverage will get better than think they will get worse." Democrats are touting the law's tax credits and increased coverage for the uninsured (Fritze and Kiely, 4/1).

Reuters: "While Obama made flying visits across the country to tout the new legislation, a number of key Democrats, who led the charge for healthcare reform, seemed to keep a low profile and are doing little to beat the drum. Republican lawmakers, however, made quick plans to harness what they see as voter discontent over the issue - either by lambasting those Democrats who may be politically vulnerable or by shoring up their own shaky campaigns with criticism of 'Obamacare.'"

Sen. John McCain says the law is "going to be repealed and replaced." Meanwhile, "Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who fought for a year to muster the votes in his own party, had no plans to speak on healthcare during the spring break, his staff said" (Whitcomb, 4/1).

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Meanwhile, some top members of the GOP are beginning to fear that the "repeal it" rallying cry regarding health reform could hurt their chances in the November election. "Democrats, hoping the GOP is indeed positioning itself too far to the right for the elections, are taking note of every Republican who pledges to fight for repeal. Such a pledge might work well in conservative-dominated Republican primaries, they say, but it could backfire in the fall if more moderate voters turn out" (4/1).

The Associated Press, in a separate story: President Barack Obama will speak Thursday in Portland, Maine, to sell the law's impact on small businesses. "Under the plan, businesses with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000 will receive tax credits this year if they provide health care coverage to their workers. Those credits are expected to increase by 2014, with 4 million small businesses benefiting, according to the White House." In Maine, Obama will speak in a state that "has been a leader on health care reform," the AP reports. That state has established programs to "lower prescription drug costs and extend health insurance to the working poor" (Pace, 4/1).

The Hill: "The White House's choice of Maine to promote healthcare on Thursday is not steeped in campaign politics. President Barack Obama won't be staking time in a swing state when he goes to Portland ... Before healthcare's passage, Obama had traveled to swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania to tout healthcare reform. ... [Sens. Olympia] Snowe and [Susan] Collins are likely to stay in the president's focus this year and beyond even if they are not targeted in Thursday's speech. Both could be swing votes on a variety of issues, and the White House will need Republican senators to join Democrats in order to move things through the Senate" (Youngman, 4/1).

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