KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Law Rhetoric Increases In Races Across Country

In races around the U.S., the health care law is proving to be a main factor in deciding who gets elected, with Republicans promising repeal and Democrats defending the tenets of the law. Fox News/The Wall Street Journal has video of debate between Connecticut Senate candidates Dick Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Linda McMahon, a Republican, on the health law (10/5).

The New York Times: "The debate, at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, also demonstrated that in politics, as in show business, timing can be everything." In addition to arguing about Blumenthal's Vietnam service and outsourcing, they also argued about what McMahon would eliminate from the health overhaul. "What programs to cut to avoid tax hikes, or what parts of the health care overhaul to eliminate? Still no specifics from Ms. McMahon" (Bass, 10/6).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: The candidates for North Dakota's congressional seat also debated the health care law in their first debate. "The debate recorded Monday at Prairie Public Broadcasting studios was the first between Democratic incumbent Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Republican challenger Rick Berg, a state representative. … Berg opened the debate by saying he was drawn into the race by watching Washington. He said he saw taxpayer funded bailouts, a record deficit and a government takeover of health care. … Berg said he believes the campaign is defined by the health care bill. He said polls showed more than 70 percent of residents were opposed to it. Pomeroy shook his head as Berg said it wouldn't reduce the deficit" (Kolpack, 10/5).

The Associated Press: A group headed by former New York Gov. George Pataki is running ads against Democratic supporters of the health law in New Hampshire and New York City. "Pataki, a Republican who left office in 2006, said last month that Revere America would target about a dozen Democrats around the country. The first three are Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is being challenged by Republican Frank Guinta as she seeks a third term in New Hampshire's 1st District, Ann McLane Kuster, who faces Republican Charlie Bass in the race for New Hampshire's open 2nd District seat, and New York Rep. John Hall, a two-term incumbent running against Republican Nan Hayworth in the 19th District north of New York City" (Ramer, 10/5).

(Fox Cities, Wisc.) Post-Crescent: The health law is also critical in a race between Wisc. Sen. Russ Feingold and his opponent, Republican Ron Johnson. "Democrats have shied away from talking too much about the federal health care law this election cycle. Feingold stands apart, saying some kind of reform was necessary and eagerly sought by businesses and people who were overburdened by soaring costs. Feingold said 60 percent of the people he talked to in his town hall meetings - he holds one in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties every year - favored some action on health care reform. 'My sense is that we're probably going to have to do more. But had we not done this bill, we would have had nothing,' he said" (Espino, 10/6).

(Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal: Medicare is an issue in the race for a Kentucky U.S. Senate seat between Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway. "The latest developments come after Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, began airing an ad last week that focuses on Paul's statement last year that a $2,000 deductible was the way to save the financially troubled program, which provides health care for the elderly. Exactly four weeks from the Nov. 2 election, the two candidates are now fully engaged on the issue. It marks the first time that either candidate has been compelled to answer his opponent's charges on the air." Paul disputes the charges that he wants to change the program in that way (Gerth, 10/5).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek, in a separate story: "The California insurance commissioners' race might not feature boldface names, but the job is influential and the winner will be tasked with navigating the changes brought by federal health care reform on the state level. The leading candidates are two state assemblymen who are termed out this year - Democrat Dave Jones of Sacramento and Republican Mike Villines of Clovis." Many around the nation are watching this race because of rising rate hikes around the nation and where they will eventually fit in to the new health law (Dillon, 10/5).

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