Debate Coverage, Cont.: Questions Emerge About Health Care Facts

News outlets offer more analysis of Wednesday night's debate, including examinations of plans and proposals about Medicare and pre-existing conditions.

The New York Times: Entering Stage Right, Romney Moved To Center
[H]e praised the Massachusetts health care bill, calling it a "model for the nation." ... This week, he pivoted to the center, as many political analysts had long expected him to do, seeking to appeal to more centrist general election voters. In doing so, Mr. Romney used striking new language to describe his policy proposals on taxes, education and health care in ways that may assuage independent voters — but which may be sowing confusion about how Mr. Romney would govern. ... his [health care] plan could exclude millions of people (Cooper, Kocieniewski and Calmes, 10/4).

The New York Times’ The Caucus: On Health Care, Two Visions With Their Own Set Of Facts
If there was one area where Mitt Romney and President Obama sometimes seemed to inhabit parallel universes at their debate on Wednesday night — with separate sets of assumptions, beliefs and even facts — it was on the question of health care and government's role in providing it (Cooper, Goodnough and Pear, 10/4).

The New York Times: Debate Praise For Romney As Obama Is Faulted As Flat
Voters sometimes surprise the pundits by coming to different conclusions about the outcome of a presidential debate. And Mr. Obama's top strategists predicted that some of Mr. Romney's answers — in particular, his admissions about the need for a voucher system for Medicare — would deepen the concern in some communities about Mr. Romney's policies (Shear, 10/4).

The Associated Press/MSN: Romney's Medicare Plan Raises Cost Questions
Mitt Romney's Medicare plan won't try to control costs by limiting the payments that future retirees would use to buy private health insurance, aides say, adding detail to a proposal from the GOP presidential nominee that has both intrigued and confused many Americans. ... Independent experts say they doubt that Romney's Medicare plan can succeed without some kind of hard spending limit; Romney campaign officials say the savings will come through competition among health insurance plans (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/5).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Debate Blurs Role Of Medicare Cost Board
In defending a cost-control board in his health law, President Barack Obama during Wednesday's debate cited the Cleveland Clinic as an example of how better health care is actually cheaper. But it's unlikely the Medicare cost-control board would adopt many of the practices that have lowered costs at the renowned clinic, located in the electoral battleground of Ohio (Burton and Radnofsky, 10/4).

Los Angeles Times: Obama And Romney Both Strayed From Facts In Debate
Obama, whose 2008 pledge to reduce insurance premiums is unfulfilled, continued to overstate the impact of the new healthcare law, claiming erroneously that premium increases had slowed in recent years. In fact, the average employee share of an employer-provided health plan jumped from $3,515 in 2009 to $4,316 in 2012, an increase of more than 22% (10/4).

The Hill: DNC Hits Romney On Pre-Existing Conditions
Democrats launched a new Web video Thursday arguing that people with pre-existing conditions would be "out of luck" under a President Romney. Mitt Romney said in Wednesday night's presidential debate in Denver that he has a plan to guarantee insurance coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But Romney did not mention important caveats to his proposal. The Democratic National Committee's Web video shows media fact-checkers rating Romney's debate rhetoric as "mostly fiction" (Baker, 10/4).

Politico Pro: Axelrod: We May Call Out Romney More
[Axelrod] pointed to Romney's pledge to repeal "Obamacare" and provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Axelrod said it was “an assertion that was so audacious that the Romney campaign has to send someone into the spin room after the debate to say he really can’t do that” (Haberkorn, 10/4).

CNN: Romney Adviser Fields Questions On Pre-Existing Conditions
Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide to Mitt Romney, suggested in a Thursday interview with CNN that the GOP presidential candidate's health plan may achieve his goal of covering individuals with pre-existing conditions through "state initiatives and money." ... When pressed whether Romney would require states to include a pre-existing conditions stipulation in their legislation, Fehrnstrom answered: ... "But, of course, we'd like them to see them continue that pre-existing band for those who have continuous coverage" (Wallace, 10/4).

Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Leaders Weigh In On Debate
Families USA, a liberal healthcare consumer group and champion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accused Romney of "breathtaking falsehoods and misleading statements" ... But analysts at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank on Capitol Hill, said the premium-support model is no more a voucher than is current law (Zigmond, 10/4).

In other news -

Politico: Simpson-Bowles Make Their Comeback
Fifty-eight million Americans saw President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tangle over former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles's deficit reduction plan. .... Now, Simpson and Bowles are looking to retool their deficit reduction package to decrease the amount of revenue it raises — to address those concerns from the right regarding tax increases. And they’re zoning in on increased tweaks to health care programs and want to bolster social safety net protections for low-income Americans — to address concerns from the left (Sherman, 10/4).

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