Battle For Public Opinion Of Health Overhaul Continues In States

The (Portland) Oregonian: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Oregon Tuesday, where state officials -- unlike their counterparts in many capitals around the country -- broadly back the health overhaul plan. "Sebelius is reaching out to governors and state officials, whose cooperation is crucial in implementing the federal health reform law passed in March. The law makes states responsible for accomplishing much of the overhaul work." In Oregon, Sebelius and Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke at a Portland high school to highlight the Oregon Health Kids Program for the uninsured (Rojas-Burke, 8/24).

Kaiser Health News: While officials in some states continue to oppose the overhaul, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., says he's noticed a dramatic shift in public opinion about the legislation since the combative town hall meetings a year ago. "What has struck me decisively is how the public mood has switched from sort of the 30,000 foot policy debate of last August and has pivoted to very practical implementation-related questions today. ... [I]nstead of people talking about socialized medicine and how we're going to be just like Great Britain, at town hall meetings this August it's, 'I'm 62 and I run a small business and I've got a pre-existing condition and is there going to be some kind of gap coverage for us between now and when we qualify for Medicare?'" (Carey, 8/25).

Bloomberg: But, combative opposition to the overhaul may still be good politics in some places. Rick Scott's victory in Florida's gubernatorial primary Tuesday shows the power national issues still have in state elections. "Scott backs Arizona's anti-immigration law and increased offshore oil and gas drilling, according to his campaign website, and opposes President Barack Obama's health-care plan. He may benefit from anti-incumbent sentiment among voters in his race to win the Nov. 2 general election, said Joseph Uscinski, who teaches politics at the University of Miami in Coral Gables." Uscinski quipped, "There is an adage that all politics are local, but this year all politics are national" (Hart, 8/25).

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