KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Races Sometimes Hinging On Health Law Issues Go Down To The Wire

Races around the nation are coming down to the wire Tuesday and the controversial health law continues to play a role in the campaign.

ABC News: The communications directors for the national committees for the Democrats and Republicans make their final pitches to the American public. They are the DNC's Brad Woodhouse and the RNC's Doug Heye. "Woodhouse said Democrats should have been less shy about touting their accomplishments on items like health care. 'That has been our perspective the whole time. If you take tough votes, if you think that the votes are right, then you should be proud of what you voted for,' he said. 'I am not sure what we could have done to change the dynamic of the election. One thing we do have though is a ground game that is turning people out, and I think we are going to surprise people tomorrow.'" The RNC's Heye expressed optimism about the election's outcomes. "'The voters certainly want to make adjustments and corrections and whatever number people want to pick out and speculate … we are optimistic,' Heye said" (Klein, 11/1).

The Hill's Healthwatch Blog: Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold, of Wisconsin, and his opponent, Ron Johnson, have focused on health reform, which has been central to messages from both candidates. "'It's a pretty simple race,' Johnson told Fox commentator Sean Hannity on Sunday. 'We absolutely have to get this spending and debt under control in this country, and part of that is really going to be to repeal the healthcare bill.' … Feingold, a three-term liberal known for his independent streak, said the law will help 'free the American people from the dominance of the health insurance industry'" (Lillis, 11/1).

The MetroWest Daily News: While Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is "saying seniors are already benefiting from the federal health care reform law, his GOP challenger" is seeking to "repeal or cut funding for the measure if elected." The Republican challenger is Gerry Dembrowski. "Last week, Markey's office said 3,330 seniors in his district had received a tax-free $250 check as of Oct. 1 to help close a gap between Medicare prescription coverage limits and their medication costs. … Dembrowski, a Woburn chiropractor, said the payment is inadequate for seniors struggling with bills for medications. 'It's telling someone you're going to give them a doughnut, but you're giving them a Munchkin,' he said" (Riley, 11/1).

Las Vegas Review-Journal: First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned Monday in Nevada for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in a tough race against Republican Sharron Angle. "Angle, during her appearance on Fox News commentator Sean Hannity's national radio talk show, blamed Reid for Nevada's 'dismal economy,' her main campaign message. She promised that, if elected, she would vote to repeal national health care reform and 'bring back good old capitalism.' ... Reid said Monday that if Angle were elected, Nevadans would wake up with a senator who 'says it's not her job to create jobs,' who would let insurance companies control health care and who 'wants to drive us right back into the ditch,' a reference to GOP policies he argues led to the recession" (Myers, 11/2).

In a separate story, The Hill's Healthwatch Blog reports that more Republicans are announcing support for a plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to privatize Medicare using a voucher system. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., said the measure "would shore up the nation's entitlement programs and 'doesn't cut any benefits to do that.' Instead, Ryan's plan - dubbed "The Roadmap for America's Future" - 'gradually raises the retirement age … and simply gets a handle on accountability,' Bachus, senior Republican on the Financial Services Committee, told the Fox Business Network Monday" (Lillis, 11/1).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.