KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Hagan Defends Medicaid Expansion, Criticizes GOP Rival In Burwell Hearing

During a nomination hearing Thursday for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Sen. Kay Hagan -- a North Carolina Democrat in a tough re-election battle -- criticized North Carolina Republicans for declining to expand the Medicaid program under the health law. Her GOP opponent, Thom Tillis, is the state House speaker.

The Washington Post: How North Carolina Republicans Are Helping Kay Hagan
Will Republicans take the Senate? The answer will hinge in part on the race between Sen. Kay Hagan and State House Speaker Thom Tillis in North Carolina. Many analysts see this election as a referendum on President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. There is likely some truth in that. According to an April 25-28 Elon University Poll I helped conduct, Hagan is supported by 61 percent of voters who think the ACA will improve healthcare in North Carolina. Among those who think the ACA will make things worse, only 14 percent support her. However, the North Carolina race will also allow voters to evaluate not only national politics but state politics, especially the recent policy shift in Raleigh. For the first time in a century, the state has a Republican governor and legislature. The GOP quickly moved to pass many controversial measures -- including restrictions on abortion facilities, requirements of voter photo identification, elimination of teacher tenure and implementation of a less progressive tax code. Tillis presided over the NC House of Representative when these measures passed (Husser, 5/8).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Hagen Uses Burwell Hearing To Criticize N.C. GOP On Health Law
Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.), in a tough re-election race, used her time Thursday at Sylvia Mathews Burwell‘s hearing to be Health and Human Services secretary to criticize North Carolina Republicans for declining to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Hagan, like some other vulnerable Democrats, has pushed the administration to make changes to the health-care law to make it more palatable to her constituents. But she has also taken a tack used by other vulnerable Democrats by criticizing Republican efforts to obstruct the law (Radnofsky, 5/8).

McClatchy: Hagan Defends Medicaid Expansion And Goes After Tillis
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., on Thursday defended the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, saying it would provide health coverage for 500,000 people in the state who need it. In an interview Thursday, Hagan said her support for the expansion underscored a big difference between her and Thom Tillis, the Republican state House speaker who hopes to unseat her in November. “That’s just one example of Thom Tillis not understanding North Carolina and not understanding North Carolina values,” Hagan said (Schoof, 5/8).

The health law is also the focus of a debate in Iowa --

The Des Moines Register:  GOP Senate Candidates Will Focus On Obamacare In Debate
Five Republican candidates for U.S. Senate plan to debate about the Affordable Care Act later this month, but the Democratic candidate won't join them. The May 22 debate is being organized by the Iowa Association of Health Underwriters, which represents insurance agents and brokers. The group said Thursday that Republican candidates Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Mark Jacobs, Scott Schaben and Matt Whitaker had all committed to participating (Leys, 5/8).

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