GOP Candidates Discuss Health Care Reform, Other Issues in Debate
At a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum accused each other of paving the way for the federal health reform law, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports.
"The whole reason this issue is alive is the bill you drafted in Massachusetts -- RomneyCare -- which was the model for ObamaCare and the government takeover of health care," Santorum said, adding that "the real fundamental issue here is government coercion." He noted that if Romney were the GOP nominee, the issue of health reform would be neutralized in the general election (Sink, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 2/22).
Romney alleged that Santorum's support for Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who switched to the Democratic party when running against former member of Congress Pat Toomey in 2010, helped pass the federal health reform law (Sonmez, Washington Post, 2/22). "The reason we have ObamaCare is because the senator you supported over Pat Toomey ... voted for ObamaCare," Romney said, adding, "[I]f you had not supported Arlen Specter, we would not have ObamaCare, so take a look in the mirror" ("Hill Tube," The Hill, 2/22).
Santorum Defends Positions on Contraception, Reproductive Health
Santorum also was pressured to explain his positions on contraception, Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health issues, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Santorum defended his earlier comments about "the dangers of contraception," attempting to link the remarks to his concern about sexual activity among young people. He said, "What we're seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children raised out of wedlock and the impact on society." Santorum added that if elected, he would not try to make contraception illegal (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/22).
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) denounced the media for pressing GOP candidates on the issue of contraception. Gingrich said that during the 2008 presidential race, "not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide," an apparent reference to a vote Obama cast as a state senator (Memoli, Los Angeles Times, 2/22).
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) tried to raise doubts about Santorum's conservatism by attacking his congressional voting record on spending bills that included funding for family planning. "If you voted for Planned Parenthood like [Santorum] did, you voted for birth control pills," Paul said, adding, "And you literally, because funds are fungible, you literally voted for abortions because Planned Parenthood gets the money" (Blake, "The Fix," Washington Post, 2/22).
Santorum said the provision was part of "a large appropriation bill that includes a whole host of other things." He said that although he had "a personal moral objection to it," he had endorsed the provision out of support for President George W. Bush. "Sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader," he said (Rutenberg/Zeleny, New York Times, 2/22).
Dutch Embassy Declines Comments on Santorum's Forced Euthanasia Claims
The Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment on recent remarks by Santorum that forced euthanasia accounts for 5% of all deaths in the Netherlands, the New York Times' "The Lede" reports.
At an event on Feb. 3, Santorum said that some elderly Dutch residents wear wristbands that state, "Do not euthanize me." He also said, "[H]alf of the people who are euthanized every year -- and it's 10% of all deaths for the Netherlands -- half of those people are euthanized involuntarily, at hospitals, because they are older and sick."
According to embassy spokesperson Carla Bundy, there are no provisions in Dutch law that allow forced euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia has been legal since 2002 and accounted for 2% of deaths in 2010 (Macker, "The Lede," New York Times, 2/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.