KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Policy Challenges, Details Create Flashpoints For Candidates’ Different Views

Although only a portion of Wednesday night's debate was supposed to focus on health issues, the presidential candidates sparred on Medicare, Medicaid and specific provisions of the health law throughout the entire 90-minute event.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Romney, Obama Tangle Over Health Care Reform Law In First Presidential Debate
Republican Mitt Romney is vowing to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, saying it adds costs to the health system and has led to Medicare cuts. Romney says in the first presidential debate that Obama spent his energy pushing through a massive health care law rather than trying to fix the struggling economy. … Obama says his administration worked on the health care law at the same time he was working to create jobs. He says the law has helped people with pre-existing conditions and those who have children under age 26. The president counters that he based the law on Romney's own plan when he was governor (10/3).

Reuters: Obama, Romney Debate Sheds Little Light On Healthcare Issues
President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney agree that the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system is broken, but neither candidate on Wednesday presented voters with a clear idea of how to fix it. Their comments about Medicare, Medicaid and healthcare in general dominated more than one-quarter of a presidential debate and gave both candidates a chance to articulate their policies for an estimated 50 million viewers (Morgan, 10/4).

National Journal: One Bright Spot For Obama In Debate: Medicare
In a tough debate for President Obama, Medicare may have been the high point. Obama made a strong case that the Medicare reform proposal offered by Mitt Romney could shift costs to seniors and potentially undermine the traditional government insurance program, even if the plan includes it as an option. Romney never fought back on Obama’s central assertion, that his plan amounted to a "voucher," even after moderator Jim Lehrer asked him if he supported "a voucher system" (Sanger-Katz, 10/3).

Medscape: Romney, Obama Hammer Each Other On Medicare In Debate
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney hammered each other on the high-stakes issue of Medicare Wednesday night in the first of 3 presidential debates, with each candidate hitting his favorite hot buttons on the subject more than once. For Romney, one hot button was the figure of $716 billion — the amount of savings that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extracts from Medicare over 10 years by cutting payment to Medicare Advantage plans, hospitals, and other providers. That spells trouble for patient access, he said. "Some 15% of hospitals and nursing homes say they won't take any more Medicare patients under that scenario," said Romney. "We also have 50% of doctors say they won't take any more patients" (Lowes, 10/3).

Roll Call: Mitt Romney Tweaks Plans, Lands Punches Against Barack Obama
Romney repeatedly sought to find the middle ground on health care, regulations and the like. He contended that his national health care plan to replace Obamacare would cover people with pre-existing conditions - but he hasn't detailed how beyond what current law allows. He defended his Massachusetts health care overhaul that Obama used as the template for his health care law, but he said that should be a model for states on a state level and not imposed at the federal level. ... The president said his policies would make sure insurance companies can't "jerk you around" and would give millions of people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health insurance. And he said the Medicare plan proposed by Romney running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would ultimately hurt existing seniors as well (Dennis and Livingston, 10/3).

Politico Pro: Obama, Romney Clash Over Medicaid
The first health care clash between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during Wednesday's debate was not over Medicare or "Obamacare." Rather, it was over Medicaid. Obama argued that Romney's plan to let the states run Medicaid programs would result in a 30 percent cut to the program, meaning less care for seniors in nursing homes and children with disabilities. "That's not a right strategy to move forward," he said. Romney retorted that his proposal to give states more control over their Medicaid programs had bipartisan support from Republican and Democratic governors. He said his plan would provide states the same level of funding they currently get and link it to inflation plus 1 percent (Cheney, 10/3).

Kaiser Health News: How Will The Election Change Medicaid?
The future of Medicaid -- the state-federal workhorse of the nation's health system that provides health coverage to the poorest and sickest Americans -- hangs in the balance on Election Day. President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have vastly different approaches to the program (Galewitz, 10/3).

Medpage Today: Health Care Takes Stage In First Debate
President Obama and Mitt Romney traded sharp jabs on healthcare in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, with each attacking the other's plans on health reform and Medicare. The first mention of the night for healthcare came in the first half-hour, when Romney said he'd cut "Obamacare" because it wasn't worth the cost. After Romney apologized for using the term Obamacare, the president said, "I like it." The former Massachusetts governor, unlike his earlier reticence on the subject, didn't shy away from his work to achieve universal coverage in his state. Instead, he said that work wasn't meant to serve as a model for the entire country, although it did seem to do that for the Affordable Care Act (Pittman, 10/3).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Medicare Takes Center Stage In First Presidential Debate
Misstatements about Medicare abounded during the first of the 2012 presidential debates, which aired Wednesday, October 3. President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney sparred repeatedly on Medicare, resurrecting sound bites that have featured prominently and consistently in their campaigns to date.  Romney repeatedly accused Obama of cutting $716 billion from Medicare through the Affordable Care Act and vowed to repeal the act on day one of his presidency. Obama defended his signature legislative achievement, saying it will drive innovative changes in Medicare and health care more broadly that will result in better care and lower costs (Szot, 10/3).

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