KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Democrats To Spotlight Health Care, Abortion Rights At Convention

Party leaders will be touting the health overhaul passed two years ago, as well as efforts to expand contraception coverage. In addition, the platform looks ahead at issues such as health disparities, public health and HIV, Politico Pro reports.

NPR: 'Now It's Our Turn': The Democratic National Convention Kicks Off In Charlotte
Unlike what Republicans did in Tampa last week, Democrats will lay out a clear plan to get the country back on sound footing, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during a news briefing in Charlotte, N.C. ... Villaraigosa said that the next few days were a time to remind the country about Obama's first term in office. He said they'll try to explain how Obama "stopped an economic catastrophe" and "how he saved the auto industry" and passed a landmark healthcare law (Peralta, 9/3).

Politico Pro: Platform Defends ACA, Suggests Next Steps
The Democratic platform includes a lengthy defense of the Affordable Care Act, but says it's "not the end" of the party's efforts and lays out a series of future health care goals targeting issues like health disparities, the health care workforce, public health and HIV/AIDS. The platform, released Monday night, suggests that the only future health care efforts that can unify Democrats would be targeted more narrowly than the Affordable Care Act. The platform promises to protect Medicaid from Republican efforts to turn it into block grants, a bitter fight that’s far from over. But the other promises are less ambitious and focused on politically safe goals, like spending more money on the public health infrastructure and the fight against HIV (Nather, 9/3). 

National Journal: Democratic Convention A Chance To Sell Obamacare
The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has been making a modest comeback since the Supreme Court ruled in June that it is indeed constitutional. It’s now a standard part of President Obama’s stump speech, right there with saving the auto industry and killing Osama bin Laden. … the true measure of the controversial health law’s standing, with Obama and the public, will be how it is handled at the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte. The convention presents a high-profile opportunity for Obama and his party to do what they haven’t done before: Sell this law (Lawrence, 8/2).

CNN (Video): Democrats Tackle Health Care
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux talks with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick about health care and the economy at the DNC (9/3).

Modern Healthcare: At DNC, Democrats Tout Benefits Of Healthcare Reform
Healthcare politics were a constant refrain during Monday's organizational meetings for the Democratic National Convention, which officially launches today. Party leaders regularly invoked popular provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in pre-convention addresses to the various councils representing different demographic and interest groups to which the party is focusing its appeal (Daly, 9/3).

The Associated Press: Ex-Obama Advisers Seek Healthcare Cost Controls
Some of President Barack Obama's former advisers are proposing major changes aimed at controlling healthcare costs as political uncertainty hovers over his health law. Call it Healthcare Overhaul, Version 2.0. Their biggest idea is a first-ever budget for the nation's $2.8-trillion healthcare system, through negotiated limits on public and private spending in each state (9/3).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama To Press Case For Four More Years
The party also will emphasize its support for abortion rights and insurance coverage for contraception. Speakers include the chiefs of Planned Parenthood and Naral Pro-choice America, as well as Sandra Fluke, the law student who came to prominence after radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh attacked her for supporting Mr. Obama's mandate that most employer health plans include contraception coverage (Meckler, 9/3).

Politico: DNC 2012: Democrats Reframe Abortion Debate
Democrats think they've figured out how to win the abortion debate: Don't make it about abortion. ... Instead, they'll defend President Barack Obama’s record on reproductive health and reproductive rights. And, as they have before, they’ll accuse GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his party of waging a "war on women" (Dovere, 9/4).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Aims To Tie Romney To Far-Right Republicans
Obama's team plans to portray the Republicans as an association of ideologues hoping to return to power with the election of a pliant White House servant who would follow a conservative, tea-party-driven agenda. In the Democrats' version of the campaign, (Mitt) Romney is a man with little substance who has subordinated himself to the party's most right-wing forces. Those include his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, and other House Republicans and GOP candidates who espouse views about reproductive rights that Democrats say put them out of step with a majority of voters, particularly women (Parsons, 9/3).

NPR: Romney And Abortion: Another Shift In The Works?
Is Mitt Romney shifting his abortion position again? It's fairly well-known that Romney proclaimed himself in favor of abortion rights when he ran for office in Massachusetts, then reversed himself before launching his presidential bid. But recently, the GOP nominee seems to be softening his opposition somewhat. Or is he (Rovner, 9/3)?

The New York Times offers a behind-the-scenes view of how the contraception decision was made at the White House.

The New York Times: The Other Power In The West Wing
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church were up in arms last fall over a proposal to require employers to provide health insurance that covered birth control. But caving in to the church’s demands for a broad exemption in the name of religious liberty would pit the president against a crucial constituency, women’s groups, who saw the coverage as basic preventive care. ... What (chief of staff William M. Daley) did not realize was that while he was trying to put out what he considered a fire, the person fanning the flames was sitting just one flight up from him: Valerie Jarrett, the Obamas’ first friend, the proposal’s chief patron and a tenacious White House operator who would ultimately outmaneuver not only Mr. Daley but also the vice president in her effort to include the broadest possible contraception coverage in the administration’s health care overhaul (Becker, 9/1).

Meanwhile, the San Jose, Calif., paper looks at a local doctor who is hitting both conventions.

San Jose Mercury News: San Jose Physician Pushing For Equal Health Care Access At Both Political Conventions
San Jose native Dr. Rita Nguyen is spending most of her two-week summer vacation on a bus, visiting the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with one goal in mind: spreading the word about affordable quality health care for all. As a member of Doctors For America, a group of 15,000 U.S. physicians and medical students working to improve the health of the nation by ensuring that everyone has access to health care, Nguyen is passionate about the tour's message, called "Patients Over Politics"(Seipel, 9/3).

And Medpage Today examines the health care situation in Charlotte.

Medpage Today: Charlotte Wins Some Big Health Battles
Having identified high infant mortality rates, HIV transmission, and poor health access in recent years, the Mecklenburg County Health Department undertook a number of initiatives to correct those issues and others. ... the overall infant mortality rate in the county has shown improvement since 2009 when it was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the 2011 Mecklenburg County State of the County Health Report. … That's just one of the issues health leaders can brag about as the country's political attention shifts to Charlotte, a city of 750,000, this week for the Democratic National Convention (Pittman, 9/2).

Republicans, however, are also gearing up on the issue of health care.

CNN: Conservative Group's Ad Compares American Health Care To Canada’s System
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity on Monday announced it would spend just over $6 million to run in eleven states an ad hitting President Barack Obama's health reform law. The 60-second spot features a woman, Shona Holmes, who said she turned to the U.S. medical system for treatment of her brain condition when the wait for a specialist would have been too long under the system in her country, Canada. "I knew then that the system had become far more dangerous for patients than I had ever realized," she says in the ad. As she speaks her next line ("the American system was there for me when I needed it"), text on the screen says that "under President Obama, America's health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona"  (9/3).

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