KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Candidates Turn Health Reform Volume Up As Midterms Near

A number of candidates for federal and state office are sounding off on how they view health reform.

In the Connecticut race for Senate, The Middletown (Conn.) Press reports that state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is touting the new law in his battle with wrestling entertainment head Linda McMahon. "'I support the health care reform bill as a good start,' he said. 'My experience with many of these health care issues comes from my dealing with people who've been denied health care insurance.' He said those cases have been his most satisfying. 'The fact is, for me the most meaningful cases are the thousands that we've done when people come to my office and they've been denied health care insurance coverage for absolutely medically necessary treatment, and it can range from cancer medicine to stem cell transplant to baby formula to a variety of other sometimes life-saving medical procedures'" (Stannard, 10/18).

The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Times Leader: Rep. Chris Carney "said he is not hiding from his vote in favor of the Health Care Reform Act of 2009. … He said that if anything, it didn't go far enough to reform the health insurance industry. Carney said he hopes to see a bill that would allow for health insurance companies to offer policies across state lines, to increase competition and keep rates low." Carney is facing Tom Marino, a Republican, in the race (Seder, 10/18).

MSNBC: "In Thursday night's debate between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, the most revealing moment came when a questioner asked Murray 'How much of the 2,600-page legislation did you actually read?' – referring to the health care bill Congress passed this year. … Murray's answer - 'I helped write it'- was revealing because it showed that, unlike most Democratic incumbents elsewhere, she sees the health care bill as an election year benefit, not a liability. In the post-debate spin session for reporters, Rossi did rattle off a series of prosecutorial questions which he might use in their second debate on Sunday night: 'Did she write the parts that are going to take Medicare Advantage away from seniors? Did she write the part with the $100 billion tax increase that's going to kill jobs in the state of Washington? Well, if she wrote the bill, then quite frankly that's what we're going to be talking about'" (Curry, 10/15).

WBUR (Boston) details Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates' positions. "All four candidates propose significant changes in health care. They range from putting everyone in a government health plan to rolling back parts of the landmark coverage law. On one end of the spectrum there's Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein, who argues in debates for getting rid of health insurers to make care more affordable." The other candidates are [incumbent] Gov. Deval Patrick, Republican Charlie Baker and independent candidate Tim Cahill. Patrick wants to make changes to the payment system in the state to allow bonuses for keeping patients healthy, Baker wants to post prices of health care and let market forces drive costs down and Cahill wants fewer insurance mandates (Bebinger, 10/18).

In Florida, Rick Scott's ties to a hospital chain continue to be a point of contention in his race for governor, The Palm Beach Post reports. "As he makes his pitch to voters, who can start going to the polls Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott touts his business background as his most compelling selling point. His Democratic rival, Alex Sink, has seized on Scott's career as the main reason he shouldn't be Florida's next governor. As Sink, and Republican primary candidate Bill McCollum before her, have frequently reminded voters in television ads and on the campaign trail, the federal government in the first few years of this century hit Columbia/HCA with a record $1.7 billion in fines for defrauding Medicare and other federal health plans in the 1990s." Scott was the CEO of Columbia/HCA when FBI agents began an investigation into the company. Scott's spokesman called the attacks "ridiculous and failed" (Ostrowski, 10/16).

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