KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Amped Up Health Law Debate Creeps Into Presidential, Congressional Races

Mitt Romney raises his attack on the Democrats' health care law while GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum assails Romney for championing the Massachusetts health law -- and takes the fight to the steps of the Supreme Court.

The Associated Press: Romney: Obama's Health Law An 'Unfolding Disaster'
Mitt Romney on Friday looked to pre-empt Supreme Court arguments that will shine a spotlight on a key vulnerability for him in the Republican primary -- health care reform. Romney called Democratic President Barack Obama's signature overhaul "an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives" (Hunt, 3/23).

The Associated Press: Santorum: Romney 'Worst Republican' To Face Obama
An agitated Rick Santorum on Sunday called Mitt Romney "the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama" even as it appears the former Massachusetts governor is on pace to clinch the party's nomination in June. ... Santorum later tried to clarify that he was talking only about Romney's ability to campaign against the national health care law championed by Obama and the Democrats (Elliott, 3/25).

CNN: Santorum Takes Campaign To Steps Of U.S. Supreme Court
With more than a week until the next Republican presidential primary, Rick Santorum is expected to take his campaign to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday as it takes up the issue of the health care reform law. It is the latest move for the contender trying to build momentum on his win over the weekend in the Louisiana GOP primary (3/26).

Boston Globe: Mitt Romney Names Health Advisory Board
On Friday, the two-year anniversary of President Obama's health care law, Mitt Romney ramped up his criticism of the plan by calling it an "unfolding disaster," while also announcing a new advisory board that would help guide the former Massachusetts governor's health care policies (Viser, 3/23).

Romney's Massachusetts health law is also a part of the conversation for campaigning Democrats and in the Supreme Court's consideration of the federal health law.

Boston Globe: Health Care Battle Focuses On Mass. Model
Because it became the first state to impose an "individual mandate"’ that requires most residents to obtain health insurance -- and because its law served as a model for President Obama's 2010 national health-care overhaul -- the Bay State invariably is held up as an example in the intense battle that is expected to be settled by the nation's highest court in June. The court's decision will determine the future of regional health-care markets like New England's, and Massachusetts will find out if it is on the cutting edge of national change or if it will remain a single square in a patchwork of disparate state health care laws (Jan, 3/25).

Bloomberg: Romneycare's 98% Success Rate Defies Gripes On Obama Law
The success of the Massachusetts health-care system is spurring President Barack Obama to extol the virtues of a law Mitt Romney signed as a governor. Romney, running for the Republican presidential nomination, says it shouldn't be the model for every state. About 98 percent of state residents are insured under the legislation Romney signed in 2006, a 10 percent rise from the previous three-year average (Armstrong and Wayne, 3/26).

In the meantime, Obama and his campaign team are taking their health care pitch on the road.

The Associated Press/Denver Post: Obama's Health Sales Pitch Includes Colo. Effort
President Barack Obama's push to sell women on his health care overhaul is playing out in key battleground states like Colorado, where moderate women could be the key to his re-election. Obama's campaign has stepped up its sales pitch nationwide as his administration's signature achievement heads to a legal challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court. Obama supporters put on events Friday marking the second anniversary of the health law. Events included a forum on women's health featuring a law student thrust into the center of the debate (Wyatt, 3/23).

Bloomberg: Plouffe Says Americans Don't Want 'Refight' On Health Care
Senior White House adviser David Plouffe defended the health care law enacted by President Barack Obama as the Supreme Court prepares for three days of hearings to determine the fate of the measure. "Where the American people are right now is they don't want to go refight this battle again," Plouffe said today on CNN's "State of the Union" program (Gallu and Riley, 3/25).

The Hill: Plouffe: GOP Will Regret 'ObamaCare' Tag, Says Law Will Be Upheld
Senior White House adviser David Plouffe predicted Sunday that Republicans will come to realize they made a big mistake by constantly calling the president's sweeping healthcare reform law "ObamaCare." "I am convinced that at the end of this decade, Republicans are going to regret turning this into 'ObamaCare,'" he said on Fox News Sunday. The remarks come two days after Obama's reelection campaign similarly embraced the term that conservatives have used to bash the health care statute that Democrats passed in 2010 (German, 3/25).

The Associated Press: Biden: GOP Changes Threaten Medicare For Millions
Campaigning in South Florida, Vice President Joe Biden lashed out against House Republicans' proposed changes to Medicare, telling a roomful of retirees that the plan would jeopardize the future health care for millions of older Americans. Biden said the Medicare plan contained in a House GOP budget would effectively dismantle Medicare as it is currently structured. Senior citizen-rich Florida, a key battleground state in the presidential race, has about 3.3 million Medicare recipients (Anderson, 3/23).

And other Democrats are considering what the health law debate will mean for their congressional and Senate races this year --

Roll Call: Five Races In Which The Health Care Debate Will Matter
About two-thirds of Democratic Members who lost in November 2010 voted for the law. This year, Republicans hope they can continue to tie vulnerable incumbents in tossup states and districts to their vote for the unpopular legislation, which would cut about $500 billion from future Medicare spending. But in 2012, Democrats believe they have a shield to deflect the attacks: House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s controversial budget, which would fundamentally change the way older Americans interact with popular Medicare program (Miller, 3/26).

St. Louis Beacon: McCaskill, Senate Rivals Continue To Focus On 'Obamacare' And Medicare 
The federal health insurance changes, dubbed by both sides as "Obamacare," already have become the top issue in Missouri's U.S. Senate contest. ... U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., acknowledged as much on Sunday, as she defended the federal health insurance changes while also pledging to defend military veterans' health benefits from the cuts that she asserts are included in the Republican budget plan before the U.S. House. Meanwhile, the Republicans competing for a chance to challenge her this fall have all condemned the health care changes – while also battling over who's been the toughest to oppose Medicare's existing prescription drug benefit (Mannies, 3/26). 

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