Health Care Issues Continue To Take Center Stage as Election Nears
During a campaign rally in northern Virginia on Friday, President Obama criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's recent efforts to appeal to women and moderate voters, saying his opponent is suffering from "Romnesia," The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room" reports.
Obama noted that Romney is "backtracking and sidestepping" on a number of issues, including abortion.
"If you say you would protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a debate and say you would be delighted to sign a bill that banned all abortions ... you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you might have Romnesia," Obama said.
Obama also promoted the Affordable Care Act, saying that it could help Romney. "If you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, or the policies you've had for the six years you've been running for president, there's good news," Obama said, adding, "ObamaCare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up. We've got a cure. We can make you well, Virginia. This is a curable disease."
Romney strategist Danny Diaz responded to Obama on Twitter. He wrote, "America doesn't need a comedy routine, it needs a serious plan to fix the economy" (Sink, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 10/19).
Health Policy Experts Say Exchanges Could Stay Under Romney
In related news, a victory for Romney might not mean the end of the state-based health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, despite Romney's pledge to repeal the health reform law, according to several health policy experts, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Joel Ario of Manatt Health Solutions -- who previously was the director of the state-based health insurance exchange office at HHS -- said that if Romney wins and Republicans gain control of Congress, "they may be compelled to go through a repeal and replace mechanism of some sort." However, he predicted that "the exchanges will be part of the replace."
The analysts noted that while serving as governor of Massachusetts, Romney received federal money for the state's health reform law, which included an exchange. They said that as president, he would be under pressure to treat other states similarly (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 10/19).
Parties Cite Political Gain From Medicare Debate
In other related news, both Republicans and Democrats say the ongoing debate over Medicare is working in their political advantage in the presidential race, AP/Modern Healthcare reports.
Both campaigns have spent millions of dollars in advertisements criticizing their opponents' Medicare plan.
As a result, the winner of the election could claim that the victory represents a "mandate" to follow through on his plans for the program.
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, it is a near certainty that Medicare will be altered significantly regardless of who wins the presidential election (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/20).
State Races Play Key Role in Medicaid, Exchanges
Meanwhile, the gubernatorial races could affect the future of Medicaid and state health insurance exchanges, CQ HealthBeat reports.
If Obama wins the upcoming election, governors will have "considerable sway" over whether their state will participate in the Medicaid expansion or operate a state-based exchange under the ACA. Meanwhile, if Romney wins, he is expected to attempt to repeal or stall the ACA.
However, without a Republican majority in the Senate, Romney likely would be unable to repeal the ACA and governors still would face decisions about the Medicaid expansion and the exchanges, according to CQ HealthBeat (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 10/19).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.