KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: August 23, 2012

Today's headlines offer more coverage of how Medicare and abortion issues are emerging both in the presidential campaign and congressional races.

Kaiser Health News: Medicare Takes Center Stage In Close Pennsylvania Races
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini, working in collaboration with Politico, reports: "GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan as his running mate may have energized the Republican base, but it has also fired up the Democratic faithful who say that Ryan's proposals to revamp Medicare would end guaranteed health benefits for seniors" (Werber Serafini, 8/22). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: CBO Says Medicare Spending Growth Slower Than Expected
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Sarah Barr reports: "Amid its grim projections for the economy overall, the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday said that Medicare spending growth is slowing, although the program will take up a larger share of the economy in a decade than it does now" (Barr, 8/22). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: In Poll, Obama Is Given Trust Over Medicare
The Romney-Ryan proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage is deeply unpopular in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to new polls that found that more likely voters in each state trust President Obama to handle Medicare (Cooper, 8/23).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: The Race: Romney-Ryan Ticket Struggles To Quell Controversies Over Medicare, Abortion Stances
Heading into next week's GOP convention, Republicans are finding themselves confronting controversies over Medicare and abortion — far from the issues they've been trying to highlight for months: jobs and the slack economy. But Republican challenger Mitt Romney and ticket mate Rep. Paul Ryan have been unable to hold the focus where they want, try as they might (8/22).

The New York Times: Romney Strategists Say They’ll Stay The Course Amid Focus On Abortion
Mitt Romney's campaign advisers have concluded that they do not need any major adjustments in strategy to respond to the new focus on abortion and reproductive rights caused by Representative Todd Akin, betting that their candidate's economic message will still resonate with female voters after the controversy over Mr. Akin’s remarks about "legitimate rape" subsides (Shear and Weisman, 8/22).

Politico: Akin Fallout Could Stick to GOP Ticket
In the shadow of Todd Akin, the "Mediscare" battle suddenly seems like old news for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Romney, who entered the primary season hoping to steer clear of the culture wars, suddenly finds himself immersed in them after a Missouri Senate candidate’s comments about "legitimate" rape and pregnancy grabbed the spotlight this week. Despite sharp condemnation from Romney and Ryan and calls for him to leave the race, Akin’s remarks sparked a new look at the ways in which the former Massachusetts governor's own positions on certain issues, like abortion, differ in shades from those of his more conservative running mate's (Haberman, 8/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Remarks Put Spotlight On Definition Of Rape
An outcry over Rep. Todd Akin's use of the phrases "legitimate rape" and "forcible rape" is focusing attention on a long-standing fight on Capitol Hill over how to define rape in health-funding legislation. Antiabortion lawmakers have tried to use the term "forcible rape" in several bills in recent years. Their goal has been to exclude funding for abortions in cases of statutory rape when a girl under the legal age of sexual consent gets pregnant. Those efforts sparked accusations from lawmakers and activists who support abortion rights that they were trying to redefine rape or believed some cases were less serious than others. Antiabortion lawmakers see the parsing as a way to have tight restrictions on any federal funding for abortion. … But past legislative efforts supported by Mr. Ryan and other antiabortion lawmakers have sought to place tight curbs on federal funding for abortions through defining what falls in the category of rape (Radnofsky, 8/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Courts Demographic Groups To Build Coalition As Romney Tries To Stick With Economy
The president's pointillist approach has been on sharp display in recent weeks as he has alternately tailored his campaign speeches and his ad campaigns to women, older voters and, most recently, new young voters who may not have been old enough to cast a ballot four years ago. In each case, Obama has used Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as foils, arguing that their policies would limit women’s health care choices, force seniors to pay more for Medicare and cut back on student loans (8/23).

The Washington Post: Ad Watch: 'Nothing Is Free'
Today the Romney-Ryan campaign came out with a new ad blasting the Affordable Care Act's cost offsets, specifically its Medicare cuts and its tax increases (Matthews, 8/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Record Outside Money In Ohio's Senate Race Has TV Airwaves Humming With Ads
His critics try to tie Brown with presidential priorities least popular in the closely divided state — including the health care overhaul and energy policies they paint as anti-coal. One of the most recent TV spots funded by Crossroads GPS asks: "Who's the biggest supporter of the Obama agenda in Ohio? It's Sherrod Brown." Before Obama bounced back in the polls, Mandel called Brown a rubber stamp for the president's policies. Brown defends his vote for Obama's health care overhaul and his support for the auto industry bailout (8/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown To Make Health Exchange Announcement
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is scheduled to make an announcement about Maryland’s health benefit exchange. Brown is making the announcement on Thursday in Baltimore. Under the federal health care law, Maryland’s exchange is due to be operational by October of next year (8/22).

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