KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Law Subject To Attack During GOP Presidential Debate

As candidates threw accusations at Democratic policies and each other, they didn't always get the specifics right. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney especially clashed on health policy issues. Meanwhile, Romney expressed his support for Medicaid block grants and Perry blamed the federal government for Texas' high number of people without health insurance.

The New York Times: Attacking The Democrats, But Not Always Getting It Right
During more than an hour and 45 minutes of intense debate on Wednesday night, the Republican presidential candidates did not shy away from exchanging blows with each other. But some of the toughest criticism — and some of the most factually problematic — was reserved for the policies, programs, and principles traditionally associated with Democrats, from tackling climate change to broadening access to health care to providing retirement insurance for the elderly (Broder, Confessore and Calmes, 9/8).

Minnesota Public Radio: PoliGraph: Fact-Checking The GOP Presidential Debate
After several weeks of disappointing polling results, the Republican presidential debate was an important moment for Rep. Michele Bachmann. ... The Claim: The new health care bill took over one-sixth of the American economy. The Facts: According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the health care industry comprises roughly one-sixth of the economy. So, Bachmann's statement implies that the new health care law took over the entire industry. ... The plan would expand the government's role in the health care system, but it also would continue to rely on private insurers. Furthermore, for those who can't get coverage, the bill would create a marketplace for people to get private insurance. Bachmann's claim is false (Richert, 9/7). 

The Wall Street Journal: Perry, Romney Clash At Debate
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney clashed from the opening bell of a Republican presidential candidates' debate Wednesday, challenging each other on job creation, health care and Social Security in pointed exchanges that signaled their burgeoning rivalry is likely to dominate the contest in the months ahead (King and Weisman, 9/8).

NPR: Perry, Romney Rivalry Still Shapes GOP Race After Debate
Asked by Politico editor John Harris if it was ever appropriate for the federal or state governments to mandate citizens to purchase health insurance, Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Obama administration ambassador to China said "Absolutely not" (James, 9/8). 

The Fiscal Times: Perry Comes Out with Guns Blazing in GOP Debate
[Gov. Rick Perry] on Texas being the state with the highest proportion of people without health insurance (26 percent): "Medicaid needs to be block-granted back to the states so we can come up with the best way. … We understand if we get the federal government out of health care, we’ll come up with more ways to treat more people" (Goozner, 9/8). 

The Texas Tribune: Perry Takes Fire From Opponents in First GOP Debate
He took hits on his stance on illegal immigration, his executive order requiring young girls to get vaccinated against HPV and his insistence that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme." ... But he was careful not to utter the word "Medicare" — the federal health provider for seniors, a key voting block (Ramshaw and Root, 9/8).

The Associated Press: GOP Rivals Gang Up On Romney Over Health Care Law
The plan that critics call "Romneycare" required the state's citizens to purchase health insurance. The "individual mandate" component of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is one of its most controversial. At Wednesday night's Republican debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Romney's plan is a bad example for the rest of the nation and called it a great opportunity for seeing what won't work (9/7).

Dallas Morning News: Perry Challenges Romney On Health Care
Rick Perry hasn't been afraid to launch some debate attacks of his own. Eying Mitt Romney, he challenged the former Massachusetts governor on health care. "I think it was a great opportunity to see what will not work, which is an individual mandate," Perry said (Benning, 9/7).

Kaiser Health News has video highlights from the debate. 

KHN also tracked news coverage of Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate and what candidates had to say about the health law.

Modern Healthcare: Romney Would Push For Medicaid Block Grants
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said if he's elected, he will introduce five executive proposals on his first day in office — including one that calls for returning "maximum possible authority" to the states so they can design their own health care solutions. The former Republican governor of Massachusetts released a lengthy plan, called "Believe in America," that calls for block grants to Medicaid, which mirrors the Republican budget drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier this year (Zigmond, 9/7).

The Hill: Perry: Blame Feds For Lack Of Health Coverage In Texas
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the federal government is to blame for the fact that his state has more uninsured people than any other. Roughly a quarter of Texas residents are uninsured — the highest percentage in any state and substantially higher than the national average. When asked during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate how he can defend that statistic, Perry said it's the federal government's fault. "We've had a request in for years at Department of Health and Human Services to have that type of flexibility, where we could have menus, where we could have co-pays, and the federal government refuses to give us that flexibility," Perry said. "We know for a fact that, given that freedom, the states can do a better job at delivering that health care and you'd see more people — not just in Texas, but across the country, have access to better health care" (Baker, 9/7).

Houston Chronicle: Perry: Feds To Blame For Texas' High Percentage Of Uninsured
Pressed more than once about Texas leading the country in the percentage of people without health insurance, Perry was quick to place the blame on the federal government. … He asserted that "we wouldn't not have that many people uninsured in the state of Texas" if the federal government gave Texas more flexibility on spending federal dollars on Medicaid (Fikac, 9/7).

Earlier, related KHN coverage: Poll: Texas Ranks High In Uninsured, Once Again (Kulkarni, 9/6).

Politico: State-Based Health Bill Loses Speed
The Republican presidential candidates have been pushing for a state-based approach to health reform — but a Senate proposal to allow that to happen through the national health reform law has vanished from the congressional agenda (Dobias, 9/7).

Kaiser Health News also provides a chart detailing where the GOP presidential hopefuls stand on health care issues.

In other fact-checking reports -

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: PolitiFact: Testing Biden's Claim That Ryan's Plan 'Eliminates Medicare'
PolitiFact has not looked favorably on the accuracy of the Democratic charges on Ryan's proposed transformation of Medicare, which he says is aimed at reducing massive federal deficits and debt. … Biden minced no words, saying the GOP path "eviscerates" — that is, guts — the health care program for the elderly. Then he went further, saying it would be "eliminated" in 10 years. … The bottom line is that all seniors would continue to be offered coverage under the proposal, and the program’s budget would increase every year. The plan would reduce the growth in Medicare spending but not wipe out that spending. And current beneficiaries and those currently 55 and over would not be affected by the changes. It changes Medicare, dramatically, but does not eliminate it (Umhoefer, 9/7).

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