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Today’s Headlines – August 17, 2012

One last batch of health policy headlines before you head to the beach.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney, Obama Camp Spar On Medicare Plans
Mitt Romney wants to make the Medicare debate easy to understand. So on Thursday, he pulled out a black marker and stepped toward a trusty white board propped up on a school-room easel here to make a presentation. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s message was simple: For current seniors under President Obama, he said, Medicare would be cut by $716 billion, and some 4 million people would be kicked off their Medicare Advantage plans. Under Romney, he said, current seniors would see “no adjustments, no changes, no savings” (Rucker, 8/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama And Romney Agree There Has To Be A Limit On Medicare; Worlds Apart On How To Do That
President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney agree there has to be a limit to how much seniors pay for Medicare, but they’re worlds apart on how to make that happen. You wouldn’t know it from the accusations they hurl on the campaign trail, but that is the real heart of the argument between the two leaders and their political parties (8/16).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: Romney Maintains Medicare Attack On Obama
Shortly after his chartered plane landed here for the last stop on a two-day fundraising swing across the Deep South, the Republican presidential hopeful stepped before news cameras outside a private air terminal to offer new evidence for how wrong Obama was to slash $716 billion in Medicare spending. “This is going to be a big issue in places where there are a lot of seniors,” Romney said, using a black marker to write down a few key points on a white board mounted on an easel (Finnegan, 8/16).

Politico: Mitt Romney Tries To Explain Medicare Stance
Mitt Romney attempted on Thursday to boil down his Medicare plan to a simple explanation: “No change” and “Solvent.” Those were the words he scrawled on a whiteboard at a last-minute news conference in Greer, S.C. this afternoon as he attempted to address questions about whether his plan is identical to that of Paul Ryan’s. Romney chose Ryan as his running mate last weekend, and the Wisconsin lawmaker is best known for a budget-slashing effort that would convert Medicare into a voucher program for some future seniors (Gibson, 8/16).

The New York Times: Romney Says He Paid At Least 13% In Income Taxes
Now, after Mr. Romney’s decision to name Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential choice, the campaign is instead waging an aggressive battle on Medicare, welfare and Mr. Obama’s character. That change in focus can be seen in the campaign’s ads and in Mr. Romney’s speeches. And it stands in contrast to the approaches of some Republican Congressional candidates, who said Thursday that they intended to wage their own campaigns strictly on economic issues. “We are staying on our message,” said Chris Collins, the Republican candidate in New York’s 27th District, near Buffalo. Mr. Collins said that Republicans should welcome the Medicare debate, but that in his own campaign, “every time anything comes up, I bring it back to the economy, the economy, Obamacare” (Shear, 8/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Says Romney Plan On Medicare Would Raise Costs On Seniors
President Barack Obama is launching his first ad defending his record on Medicare, accusing Republican Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan of undermining the health care program critical to millions of seniors. In a new ad released Friday, Obama’s campaign points to the AARP, which said in a letter to lawmakers earlier this year that Ryan’s plan to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system would lead to higher costs for seniors. It says Obama’s approach would strengthen the program (8/17).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Questioned Over Apparent Shifts On Issues
The probing did not let up Thursday, even during a quick visit the new Republican vice presidential candidate made to a hot dog stand here. Ryan invited a reporter celebrating a birthday to join him for a bite, and was soon asked about his Medicare position. … Leaning over a hot dog covered in sauerkraut, Ryan responded: “First of all, those are in the baseline — he put those cuts in. Second of all, we voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, including those cuts. I voted that way before the budget; I voted that way after the budget. So when you repeal all of Obamacare what you end up doing is that repeals that as well” (Semuels, 8/16).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Ryan Says He Voted Against Medicare Cuts
Mr. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and Mr. Romney’s running mate, moved to close the apparent divide on the Republican ticket Thursday in answering a reporter’s question. He observed that he voted multiple times to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act signed in 2010 by Mr. Obama, including all the Medicare cuts. Why, then, did his budget assume the cuts would stay? “It was already in the baseline,” Mr. Ryan said. “We would never have done it in the first place” (Landers and Nelson, 8/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: As Obama Camp Elevates Ryan Stature, It Tears Down His Policies
Obama’s team has focused particularly on the Ryan budget’s proposal to alter Medicare, seeking to create doubts and fears among older voters. Romney’s camp, anticipating the criticism, engaged in the debate head-on, launching a pre-emptive ad that takes issue with Obama’s health care plan and its reductions in Medicare spending (8/17).

Politico: Paul Ryan’s Medicaid Changes May Be Bigger
While Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is getting all the headlines, his plan for Medicaid is every bit as dramatic. But because Medicaid helps the poor — who don’t vote — rather than seniors — who do — it hasn’t dominated the presidential race like Medicare has. Ryan’s budget would turn Medicaid into block grants to the states. That’s not a new idea; Republican governors have been demanding that since at least the Reagan years, which is another reason the issue isn’t capturing the headlines right now (Kenen and Norman, 8/16).

The New York Times’ The Caucus: New Ad From Democrats Attacks Michigan Lawmaker On Medicare
Medicare is the ammunition, and a Michigan congressman is the target of the latest ad released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The television ad, assailing Representative Dan Benishek of Michigan, is the first released by the committee during the general election (Berg, 8/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Tennessee Abortion Clinic Shuts Down After 38 Years, Citing Restrictive New State Law
A new Tennessee law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals is being blamed for the closure of a longtime Tennessee abortion provider (8/16).