KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP Medicare Plan Triggers Town Hall Rage – But Is It Real?

News outlets examine what's behind the activity during recent town-hall meetings as activists voice concerns about the GOP spending plan, which was advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Experts wonder, though, whether the mounting criticism is organic or rooted in Washington political theatrics.

Politico: Town Hall 'Rage': Organic Or Astro?
In 2009, hordes of angry voters grabbed headlines by overrunning town halls to protest health care reform. To supporters, they were an organic, on-the-ground confirmation of the cause. To detractors, they were little more than Astroturf - Washington-funded conservative front groups stoking populist outrage for their partisan gain. Two years later the same storyline is playing out - only in reverse - and a wide range of liberal activists and unions are ginning up the "town hall rage" narrative against Republican plans for Medicare. But the critical question looms again: Is this a real movement or something orchestrated and overdone by Washington-fueled activists? (Cogan and Allen, 4/28).

Bloomberg: Republicans Dismiss Public Attacks On Ryan Medicare Revamp As Orchestrated
U.S. House Republicans pushing to overhaul Medicare dismiss the vocal opposition some have encountered from constituents as orchestrated by political foes. The Republicans, who have spent much of the two-week congressional recess fending off questions from voters about the proposal, say they are standing by the plan, a cornerstone of the 2012 budget measure the House passed April 15 on a party-line vote (Lerer, 4/28).

Politico: Union Organizers Put Seniors On Ryan's Trail
Citizens Action of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Labor Council have enlisted a traveling band of seniors to follow Paul Ryan's every move while he conducts town halls across the state (Nocera, 4/28).

USA Today: Ryan Draws National Attention At Town Halls
The budget - and especially Medicare - is the hot topic everywhere, nowhere more so than in Ryan's southern Wisconsin district. Ryan is the architect of a GOP budget plan that would fundamentally remake the health care program for seniors (Korte, 4/29).

ABC: (Video) Rep. Lankford: 'I'm Not Spooked' By Reaction To Paul Ryan Budget
Despite anger that's erupted at town-hall meetings in districts across the country, Republicans are standing by their support for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's spending plan – including the controversial proposal to phase out Medicare for those who are now under 55 years of age. On ABC's "Top Line" today, Rep. James Lankford, a freshman Republican who serves on the House Budget Committee, chalked up the anger to "organized efforts" by liberal groups to try to embarrass Republicans, and said "the majority of people that I've talked to" support the Ryan budget (4/28).

ABC: Tea Party Frank Guinta Draws Ire Over Medicare Vote
Facing a feisty crowd of constituents who shouted, interrupted and shook their heads at him, freshman Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., spent two hours Thursday night calmly defending his vote for a GOP-led plan to overhaul the country's Medicare system. "Why Congressman Guinta, why in the world, did you ever vote for the Paul Ryan Medicare plan?" asked, Gary Patton, who posed the first question at an often raucous town hall meeting the congressman hosted at a local high school here (Falcone, 4/29).

MSNBC: Voters Listen, Debate Congressman Ryan's Budget Plan
Ryan repeated his plan to cut spending and reform Medicare to oversize crowds in Greenfield and Oak Creek Ryan called on more people who disagreed with him, especially on taxes. "If you reduce the rate for top earners by 10 percent to 25 percent you have that much less to help with the problem," said one man in the audience. "The top one percent of wage earners get almost all the tax deductions," said Ryan. "If you shrink or take away these tax shelters you can lower the tax rates for everybody" (4/28).

Los Angeles Times: Independent Political Groups Hit Airwaves Over Medicare Spending
The battle over the future of Medicare and the federal budget has been joined unusually early by independent political groups, providing an indication of the large role they are likely to play in the 2012 campaign and beyond (Mason and Hamburger, 4/29).

The Associated Press: What's Behind Seniors' Fears Of GOP Medicare Plan?
The loudest objections to the GOP Medicare plan are coming from seniors, who swung to Republicans in last year's congressional elections, and many have been complaining at town-hall meetings with their representatives during the current congressional recess. Some experts say GOP policymakers may have overlooked a defining trait among older people: concern for the welfare of the next generations (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/28).

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