Health Policies Will Play Role In Debate's Political Theater

As new polls show a narrow margin separating them, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face questions on their plans for Medicare, Medicaid and overhauling the health system during tonight's debate. The focus will be on domestic policy, and at least 15 minutes will be dedicated to health care.   

The Wall Street Journal: Race Tightens In 2 States As Ohio Gap Widens
Biting into President Barack Obama's lead over the past three weeks, Mr. Romney trails the president by a single percentage point among likely voters in Florida and by two points in Virginia, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist Poll surveys show. Both races are statistical dead heats, as Mr. Obama's leads fall within the surveys' margin of error. But Mr. Romney trails by eight percentage points among likely voters in Ohio (Murray, 10/3).

The New York Times: Claims Likely To Surface In Debate And Facts Behind Them
Both candidates agree that the health care program for older Americans, the single-biggest contributor to projected deficits, cannot continue growing at current rates. They disagree on how, and how much, to curb it. Mr. Romney favors shifting from the open-ended, fee-for-service Medicare program to one giving each beneficiary a fixed annual amount to buy private insurance or a Medicare option. … Mr. Obama, who says Mr. Romney would "voucherize" the program, instead backs marginal changes, including lower payments to providers of health care like doctors and insurers (Calmes and Harwood, 10/2).

The Associated Press: First Debate Sets Up Moment Of High-Risk Theater
The central role of the economy in this election is evident in the topics selected for the first three of the night's six debate segments: The Economy I, The Economy II and The Economy III. The last three segments will focus on health care, the role of government and governing (Hunt and Benac, 10/3).

On the lighter side -

Kaiser Health News Capsules blog: “Health Savings Accounts”? I Have Bingo!
There’s no better way to help you stay focused on the questions and answers than with a good, old fashioned game of BINGO. Or in this case, DEBATE-O. The game card below is filled with terms that the two candidates might use to describe their own plans and to attack their opponent’s plans. Each time you hear a word or phrase that’s on your game card, click on it (10/2).

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