Campaign Issues And Answers: Health Coverage, Costs, Quality

Policy positions related to the future of the nation's health system have taken on significance for presidential candidates, as have issues related to women's health, entitlement spending and deficit reduction.

The Associated Press: Why It Matters: Issues At Stake In Election
America's health care system is unsustainable. It's not one problem, but three: cost, quality and coverage.
The U.S. has world-class hospitals and doctors. But it spends far more than other advanced countries and people aren't much healthier. And in an aging society, there's no reliable system for long-term care (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/29).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Why It Matters: Fight Over Birth Control And Abortion Rages On National And State Levels
The issue: Whether women have access to abortion services and birth control is a longstanding and divisive issue in politics, and it has flared up from time to time in this campaign despite the candidates' reticence to dwell on such hot-button topics (10/1).

Politico: Big 'Romneycare' Secret: It Didn't Rein In Costs
It's one of the greatest stories never told. An ambitious Republican governor passes a revolutionary health reform plan that promises health insurance coverage for everyone but fails to reduce health costs or the growing reliance on the state's overburdened hospitals — and depends heavily on the financial support of the federal government (Haberkorn and Cheney, 9/30).

The Associated Press: Analysis: Candidates' Deficit Plans Don't Add Up
Here's the rap on the presidential candidates' plans for cutting federal deficits: Mitt Romney's is too bold and the numbers don't add up, while President Barack Obama's is too timid and his numbers don't add up, either. ... The Republican nominee promises to balance the budget in eight years to 10 years, but he also offers a mix of budgetary contradictions. ... Obama claims more than $4 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade. But it you peel away accounting tricks and debatable claims on spending cuts, it's more like $1.1 trillion. Republicans say it's even less because of creative bookkeeping used to mask spending on Medicare reimbursements to doctors (Taylor, 10/1).

Meanwhile, The Washington Post offers some suggested questions for this week's debate -

The Washington Post: Some Debate Questions For Obama And Romney To Lob At Each Other
All too often, neither (President Barack Obama nor GOP nominee Mitt Romney) has been directly challenged about his misleading statements. So here are some questions we would like to see. ... Obama to Romney: You keep saying that health-insurance premiums have gone up by $2,500, as if "Obamacare" had anything to do with it. You know that most provisions of that law have not gone into effect yet, so experts say only a small portion of the increase is due to the law. ... Romney to Obama: You keep claiming that health-care premiums will go down for people in the individual and small-group markets. But isn't it correct that, because of a variety of provisions in the law, premiums are going to go up for young Americans and healthier individuals? (Kessler, 9/30).

CNN: Romney Mail Piece Takes Aim At 'Obamacare'
A new mailer from the Romney campaign portrays "Obamacare" in a particularly harsh light, claiming that President Barack Obama’s health care law would send jobs overseas and force millions off Americans off their existing coverage. The mail piece, which landed in Virginia mailboxes late last week, says Republican nominee Mitt Romney would "take immediate steps to repeal and replace Obamacare" on the first day of his presidency (Hamby, 10/1).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.