KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Reform Law Bubbling Up As Campaign Issue

The Associated Press: Lawmakers have left Washington to campaign and focus on their messages regarding the economy and health care. "Majority Democrats facing significant losses in the wake of unpopular bills to stimulate the economy and overhaul the nation's health care laws sought to do their party no further harm on Capitol Hill" (Kellman and Abrams, 9/30).

In a separate story, The Associated Press reports that the new law is a major issue in California. "Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and GOP challenger Carly Fiorina displayed sharp differences in their second debate Wednesday over a wide range of issues, particularly Republicans' call to repeal national health care reforms. … [Fiorina] said lawmakers missed an opportunity with health care reform to bring more competition to the insurance industry. She has said she would favor repealing the law if elected. … Boxer, who is seeking her fourth term, said she would be open to amending the health care bill, but suggested Republicans have no plans to replace it with any reforms" (Lin, 9/29).

Las Vegas Sun: In the meantime, a Nevada race for Senate between Sharron Angle and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is heating up as "national Democrats are calling on Republican senate candidate … Angle to drop the government-funded health insurance she enjoys through her husband, who is a retired government worker." Angle says Medicare should be privatized, and believes "the federal government should not be involved in such benefit programs" (Damon, 9/29).

St. Petersburg Times' PolitiFact finds that an ad saying Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., voted to "gut" Medicare when he voted for the health law is "Barely True."  "The cuts do put in jeopardy some of the extra benefits of Medicare Advantage plans, such as dental and vision coverage, enhanced prescription drug coverage and gym memberships. … Do the Medicare Advantage changes 'gut Medicare' or 'jeopardize access to care for millions'? There will likely be cuts to Medicare Advantage, but basic benefits must be preserved." Sestak is running for Senate against Republican Pat Toomey (Jacobson, 9/30).

Meanwhile, President Obama is also getting an "earful" from citizens on health reform, most recently in a backyard forum in Iowa, according to The Washington Post: "Obama stood patiently as one woman described, at length, her fears that the U.S. health-care system will soon resemble that of Great Britain. Next, a man spent several minutes describing the way his small business works - and his unhappiness with the prospects of a tax hike." Obama has talked with Americans at several backyard events during the last week (Kornblut, 9/29).

Politico: "Obama explained to one woman that she won't be forced to buy a 'government-run health care plan' and that the sweeping health care overhaul doesn't mandate coverage of undocumented workers. … Though apparently weary of the confusion, Obama said, 'I understand why people are concerned. This is a very personal thing, and nothing is scarier when you don't have health care and you're sick'" (Marr, 9/29).

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