Health Care Politics: Contraception Issues Shift Women To Dems, GOP Contenders On Medicare's Future

News outlets analyzed Republican positions on abortion, contraception and Medicare--and how women are reacting to the campaign--as well as a poll on the health law.

The New York Times: Centrist Women Tell Of Disenchantment With G.O.P.
In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy (Saulny, 3/10).

The Washington Post: Recent Debate Over Contraception Comes As GOP Loses Gains Among Women
The fragile gains Republicans had been making among female voters have been erased, a shift that has coincided with what has become a national shouting match over reproductive issues ... When a Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey asked in the summer which party should control Congress, 46 percent of women favored Democrats and 42 percent preferred Republican control. But in a survey released Monday ... that figure had widened considerably to a 15-point advantage for the Democrats, according to polling by the team of Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff (Tumulty, 3/9).

ABC News: Obama Plugs Health Care Law at Texas Fundraiser
President Obama tonight honed a defense of his administration’s controversial health care law, calling pledges by his Republican rivals to roll back the legislation an affront to women. "Because of this law, preventive care is now covered and, yes, that includes preventive care for women: check-ups, mammograms, birth control," Obama told an applauding crowd of more than 750 campaign donors in Houston. ... The comments on women and the health care law are a notable, new twist in Obama’s campaign stump speech (Dwyer, 3/9).

The Associated Press: Murkowski Regrets Voting With GOP On Birth Control
Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she saw it coming, even before the public scolding last weekend at Alaska's Iditarod dog sled race. Siding with Republican leaders on a contentious contraceptives vote was a mistake. ... Murkowski voted in favor of an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to overturn President Barack Obama's order that health insurance cover the cost of contraceptives even if providers object on religious grounds. ... Supporting the Blunt amendment "was the first time she ever did anything that was even remotely considered pro-life," said Debbie Joslin, a Republican National Committeewoman from Alaska. "She could have won some new friends if she had just stayed constant there instead of flipping back to opposing the Blunt amendment" (Kellman, 3/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Race Comes to Dark-Red Kansas
Kansas has seen a decided shift in the past few years, as a state party that once counted former Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum among its standard-bearers has sharpened its ideological edges, tackling fiscal and social issues head-on with an agenda that conservatives have called bold and critics have deemed extreme. ... This past week, [Gov. Sam] Brownback offered high praise for Mr. Santorum's focus on social issues. Among other things, Mr. Santorum has made opposition to abortion a central issue in his campaign ... "The social issues that he's raising are, to me, critically important," the governor said (Nelson, 3/9).

The Hill: Poll: Americans Don't Think Obama Law Will Make Healthcare Better - Or Worse
A new Associated Press-GfK poll of 1,000 adults found that 51 percent of respondents think the quality of their healthcare will be "about the same" with or without the law.  ... [but] Americans aren’t apathetic about it. Almost half — 47 percent — say they oppose the law, which would increase federal healthcare spending by tens of billions of dollars a year. Far fewer — 35 percent — support the law (Pecquet, 3/9).

Earlier news summary of the poll: AP Poll: Health Law Still Divisive, But Americans Worry Less About Their Own Care (3/9)

Modern Healthcare: Shaky Support
The three leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination after last week's Super Tuesday primaries say Medicare should give beneficiaries a fixed amount to use toward a private health plan. ... former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have indicated their preference for the premium-support concept in some fashion, but their comments are very general, much like the premium-support proposals that have emerged. "We don't know what the premium-support plans that have been put forward would really look like if translated into legislation," said Henry Aaron, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution (Zigmond, 3/10).

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