KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Races Make Final Health Overhaul Messages Clear As Election Day Nears

Candidates push their final messages for Tuesday's elections, while the congressional debate over the health care overhaul still reverberates.

The Hill: "Many of the House Democrats who cast the deciding votes on health reform are expected to lose on Election Day." They include: "Democratic Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Debbie Halvorson (Ill.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Betsy Markey (Colo.) [who] were all late yes votes on health reform." Still others are in toss-up races. "It is unclear whether lawmakers will survive or fall solely based on their support of healthcare reform. But polling shows that Democrats have lost the message war this year on the landmark health law and in tight races, the yes votes could be the deciding factor" (Cusack, 10/30).

California News Service/San Francisco Chronicle: "Six of the area's lawmakers stand to lose their posts as committee or subcommittee chairs if Republicans win the 39 seats needed to capture a majority in the House of Representatives." They include Pete Stark, "the dean of the Bay Area delegation. … The East Bay congressman has long promoted government programs to provide affordable and accessible health care. As chair of the health subcommittee of Ways and Means, he presides over measures governing Medicare, Cobra and health subsidies for children. The panel played a large role in shaping the health care bill" (Clifford, 11/1).

 San Francisco Chronicle, in a separate story: "The governor's race is getting more attention, but the campaign for state insurance commissioner might have higher stakes, as federal health care reform barrels toward California. … The insurance industry has poured more than $4.5 million into the race, setting spending records for an office that rarely receives attention. Most of the money has gone to support Republican Mike Villines rather than Democrat Dave Jones, a Sacramento assemblyman." The commissioner in California will "have control over how, and when" health reform is implemented in the state.

"Jones says he'll push to quickly implement national health care reform in California, taking extra steps to protect women's reproductive health options and obtaining low rates for the state's 6 million residents who are currently uninsured. … Villines, an assemblyman from Fresno, opposes most aspects of national health care reform but said he would push hard to protect people with pre-existing conditions and to make the process more transparent" (Jones, 11/1).

The Hill's Ballot Box Blog: "Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Sunday that he thinks Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap ahead of Tuesday, but slammed the 'misinformation' he said has been promulgated by Republican candidates this cycle. 'For the first 18 months, Democrats were governing and the Republicans were campaigning and I think that cost us,' Brown said. 'Look at the healthcare bill. Some people still believe that there are death panels'" (D'Aprile, 10/31).

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