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Today’s Headlines – Sept. 28, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about political and policy-oriented health care developments.

The Washington Post: Medicare Working To Boost Obama In Swing States, Poll Finds
Voters in three critical swing states broadly oppose the far-reaching changes to Medicare -associated with the Republican presidential ticket and, by big margins, prefer President Obama to handle the issue, according to new state polls by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation. For seniors in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, Medicare rivals the economy as a top voting issue (Aizenman, Cohen and Craighill, 9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Looking Past Entitlements, Senior Voters Ask How They Will Fare In An Obama Or Romney Economy
Get in line, Medicare and Social Security. Seniors, like just about everyone else, have money on their minds. Who wins the trust of seniors … will be a deciding factor in the presidential election. That should be good news for Mitt Romney, because those 65 and older have backed the Republican candidate in both of the last two presidential elections. But President Barack Obama has been pounding Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, on their plan for Medicare. Those attacks are starting to bear fruit for Obama, who is gaining ground among seniors in two key battlegrounds: Florida and Ohio. Still, Romney has the edge nationally among seniors — in no small part thanks to seniors’ concerns about Obama’s handling of the economy (9/27).

For more headlines …

The New York Times: Obama Fills In Blanks Of Romney’s Plans, And GOP Sees Falsehoods
The Obama campaign has run advertisements charging that Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan “could raise seniors’ costs up to $6,400 a year” and that his tax proposal “would give millionaires another tax break and raises taxes on middle-class families by up to $2,000 a year” (Cooper, 9/27).

Politico: What Obama Isn’t Saying About Medicare
As Woodward explains in “The Price of Politics,” Obama was willing to make significant changes to the cherished federal health care plan for seniors last year as part of a grand bargain with congressional Republicans. And 2011 was hardly the first time Obama considered confronting the costly and popular program; it’s also highly likely it won’t be the last if he’s reelected (Martin, 9/27).

Los Angeles Times: Obama And Romney Campaigns Take Battle To Virginia
Both candidates are heavily targeting women in Virginia, particularly in the northern suburbs of Washington, where Romney campaigned Thursday. Democrats are accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women” by targeting reproductive rights. They point to a measure that failed in the Virginia Legislature this year that would have required trans-vaginal ultrasounds before a woman could have an abortion. … Outside groups are also weighing in, airing ads that feature Romney’s vow this year to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. A GOP group is running an ad featuring a young woman jogging with her daughter in a stroller, while the narrator describes herself as a former Obama voter whose husband was laid off twice (Mehta, Reston and Memoli, 9/27).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Does Not Need To Be Unmuzzled, Paul Ryan Says
Instead, the Wisconsin congressman pointed out that he has concentrated his efforts on interviews with regional reporters, which often go unreported by national news outlets but are designed to target voters in specific markets. … But Ryan has not avoided places where he is likely to encounter hostile crowds. Last week, he gave a speech to the national AARP convention in New Orleans, where he was booed for advocating the repeal of the president’s healthcare law and the restructuring of Medicare for future retirees (Abcarian, 9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Presidential Coattails A Potential Factor In Some Tight Races For Control Of Senate
They will help shape a number of key Senate and House races. The prospect of presidential coattails — or the opposite, a drag — is factoring into the way races down the ballot are being run, especially in close contests. … The impact and potential of coattails is less clear in the House. …  Romney’s struggle to overcome his remarks at a meeting with donors offered an early demonstration of how the top of the ticket can quickly shake other races. His comment … that 47 percent of Americans think they are “victims” entitled to government help and that he doesn’t worry about “those people,” sent Republican Senate candidates scrambling. … There are, after all, a lot of Republicans in that 47 percent — seniors, for example, who depend on government programs like Medicare and Social Security after paying into them for decades (9/27).

The Washington Post: Kaine Ad Hits Allen On Medicare, Social Security
Timothy M. Kaine upped the ante Thursday in the battle over seniors in Virginia, launching a new ad hitting George Allen for his record on Social Security and Medicare (Pershing, 9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: National Issues Make Nevada Senate Race A Nail-Biter Over Ethics, Medicare
Rep. Shelley Berkley ended her speech at a recent gathering of union members and retirees here by bringing up a potentially risky subject — her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner. Lehrner was supposed to be an albatross in the seven-term congresswoman’s attempt to replace Republican Dean Heller in the U.S. Senate, because his involvement in a kidney transplant program that Berkley pushed to save sparked a House Ethics Committee investigation of the congresswoman. But Berkley focused instead on health care, luck and love (9/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Some Firms’ Workers Will Choose From Array Of Benefits
Is health insurance just the beginning? A handful of employers may go even farther than Sears Holdings Corp. and Darden Restaurants Inc., which plan to give workers a set sum of money next year to use in choosing among health plans (Mathews, 9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Public Citizen Advocacy Group Tracks Rise In Pharmaceutical Settlements With State Governments
Federal and state prosecutors have collected more than $30 billion from drug companies for alleged fraud and illegal marketing over the last 20 years, according to a new report by consumer advocacy group Public Citizen (9/27).

Los Angeles Times: Free Healthcare Clinic At LA Sports Arena Draws 4,800
Many of the 4,800 people seeking care at the annual massive free clinic this weekend will become eligible for health insurance in 2014 when the national law takes effect. Organizers said raising awareness about the healthcare changes is crucial (Gorman, 9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Md. Health Reform Panel Approves State Health Plan As Benchmark In Health Care Reform
A Maryland panel working on implementing federal health care reform voted Thursday to use the state employee health plan as a benchmark for other plans that will be available to small businesses and individuals for two years, starting in 2014 (9/27).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Liberal Oklahoma Pastors Protest Hobby Lobby Suit Challenging Coverage Of Morning-After Pill
Christian activists attempted Thursday to deliver a petition to Hobby Lobby criticizing its challenge to a portion of the new federal health care law, but guards at the company’s headquarters turned them away. … Schmitz said more than 80,000 people had signed copies of a petition circulated nationwide by Faithful America, an online Christian group, and UltraViolet, which promotes women’s rights. Schmitz said he intends to mail the petition to the company. Lawyers representing Hobby Lobby this month sued the federal government claiming it should not be forced to provide workers with health insurance that covers the morning-after and week-after pills (9/27).