KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 31, 2012

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations examine Mitt Romney's speech last night and the messages on health care at the Republican convention.

Politico: In RNC speech, Mitt Romney Gives Passing Mentions To Health Care, Medicare
Mitt Romney’s most significant political speech of the 2012 campaign made only a passing reference to two of the biggest issues in the entire election: Medicare and the future of President Barack Obama’s health care law. In the whole speech, which lasted about 45 minutes, there were exactly two lines about health care. One was the same attack on Obama’s Medicare cuts that Paul Ryan made last night. The other was the standard pledge to repeal "Obamacare" (Haberkorn, 8/30).

The Washington Post: Romney Draws Battle Lines In GOP Acceptance Speech
Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 was highlighted, but although video clips included his record on fiscal issues, there was no mention of his signature accomplishment, the passage of a health-care law that became a model for Obama’s plan (Balz, 8/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Promises To 'Restore' U.S.
On a night that sought to show how his background prepared him for the reins of government and to reinvigorate the economy, Mr. Romney presented few policy details. While Mr. Romney has made his plans to cut tax rates a central argument in his campaign—and has focused recently on making changes to Medicare—he skimmed over both issues in his speech (McCain Nelson and Murray, 8/31).

Politico: Romney's Health Care Challenge: A Mandate For What?
Republicans at the national convention insist they’ll have a mandate to reshape Medicare if their guys win the White House in November, but that doesn't mean Paul Ryan's ambitious reform plan will become law. In fact, the Republican ticket has been left plenty of wiggle room to dodge the proposal that made Ryan a hit with fiscal conservatives. Mitt Romney has been deliberately vague on the specifics. He’s not coming anywhere close to the level of detail of Ryan’s House budgets that outlined the plan. And that’s by design (Haberkorn and Allen, 8/30).

Los Angeles Times: Rhetoric vs. Reality: Now Comes The Hard Part For Romney-Ryan
Throughout the week, Medicare loomed as the starkest example of the clash between the rhetoric that roused the party's truest believers and the cold political realities of waging a winning campaign. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the convention's rousing keynote speaker, told the crowd that Democrats mistakenly believe "the American people don't want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties." ... But Romney and Ryan did not run toward it in their nationally televised convention speeches. Rather than promote their plan — which Democrats say would increase healthcare costs for the elderly — Ryan attacked President Obama for cutting $716 billion in projected Medicare spending over the next decade (Finnegan, 8/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Return Fire Quickly On Medicare
The Obama campaign plans a counterattack against Republican proposals to overhaul Medicare, with the aim of showing at next week's Democratic convention that the president's plan offers more economic security for Americans. At their convention in Tampa this week, Republicans have thrust Medicare into the heart of the presidential campaign by trumpeting a plan to shift Medicare beneficiaries to private insurance plans. Democrats on Thursday seized on Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan's prime-time speech, saying that his approach to Medicare would leave the elderly high and dry (Radnofsky, Meckler and Nicholas, 8/30).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan's Factual Errors Noted By Many, But Are Voters Listening?
Paul Ryan mostly got raves for the "optics" of his speech Wednesday night before the Republican National Convention, winning the image battle on the biggest night of his young political life. But by the time the reviews came piling in after midnight, the Republican vice presidential nominee had taken a serious beating for straying repeatedly from the facts. The GOP’s newly minted Boy Wonder, just 42, bent or ignored the record on issues ranging from Medicare, to President Obama’s debt-reduction commission, to the closing of a GM plant in his Wisconsin hometown, to the beneficiaries of federal stimulus spending — according to a couple of fact-check organizations and news outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post (Rainey, 8/30).

Los Angeles Times: Democrats: Paul Ryan 'Lied' In Convention Speech
Democrats came out swinging Thursday with a fact-check rebuttal of Paul Ryan’s  prime-time convention speech, saying he "lied," and pre-butted Mitt Romney's expected address. "There's no delicate way to say this: Paul Ryan lied," said Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for President Obama's campaign from the party's war room a few blocks from the convention hall. ... But several of Ryan's key points hewed along the edges of factuality, and fact-checkers have been quick to pounce. Claims that Obama is taking $716 billion from Medicarehave been rebutted as reductions to healthcare providers, rather than cuts to senior beneficiaries – and Ryan's own proposed federal budget counts on similar Medicare savings to reduce the deficit (Mascaro, 8/30).

The Washington Post: Bitter Campaign And Its Rhetoric Bring Fact Checkers To The Center Of Debate
Did Paul Ryan bend the truth? The verdict, rendered by a slew of media fact checkers, was immediate and unequivocal: In his first major speech before the American people, the Republican vice presidential nominee repeatedly left out key facts, ignored context and was blind to his own hypocrisy. ... But the push-back from the Romney campaign, and Republicans at large, was just as quick and just as self-assured. "Lemmings to their own death," read the headline of a column by Erick Erickson on the conservative Web site RedState.com. "The fact checkers are not checking facts, they are spinning," he wrote (Helderman, 8/30).

The New York Times: Facts Take A Beating In Acceptance Speeches
Mr. Ryan spoke out forcefully against the "$716 billion funneled out of Medicare by President Obama," without noting that his own past budget plans had counted on the same savings. And he pledged to protect Medicare without explaining how the Romney-Ryan plan would change it. Mr. Romney said that the Medicare cuts would "hurt today’s seniors." In fact, the savings would come not from trimming benefits for current recipients, but from cutting the projected growth in reimbursements to hospitals and insurers over the next decade. The Medicare debate is shaping up as central to the election: Democrats say that the Romney-Ryan plan to reshape Medicare would force future beneficiaries to pay more for their health care, while Republicans fault Mr. Obama for cutting $716 billion in its projected growth (Cooper, 8/31).

The Wall Street Journal: California Bill Bans Gay-Conversion Therapy
California's state legislature on Thursday passed the nation's first law banning professional psychological therapy aimed at turning gay and lesbian youth straight. The legislation, which will next go to Gov. Jerry Brown for review, prevents licensed psychologists and therapists from seeking to change the sexual orientation of children under 18 (Fowler, 8/30).

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