Presidential Candidates Focus Message On Medicare, Health Law

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney campaigned in Florida and blasted the health law as a threat to seniors while President Barack Obama attempted to highlight Romney's changes in position. 

The New York Times: Romney Works To Build Momentum In Florida, A State Critical To Victory
With polls showing the race even tighter in Florida than in other battleground states, Mr. Romney tailored his message for maximum appeal, including by painting "Obamacare" as a threat to Florida seniors who rely on Medicare. The health care overhaul would mean "$44 billion of cuts right here in Florida" to Medicare, Mr. Romney said, offering an interpretation that Democrats strongly reject. He added that about "540,000 of our seniors that have Medicare Advantage would lose Medicare Advantage here in Florida" (Gabriel, 10/7).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Chides Romney On Taxes But Acknowledges He Debated Poorly
President Obama mocked Mitt Romney on Sunday night for shifting his positions in the first nationally televised debate and added that his foe was not offering "change," but a "relapse" to failed GOP policies. … In Florida, Romney sought to appeal to moderate voters by saying that he would do everything in his power "to make us more united as a people" and that, if elected president, he would seek out Democrats as legislative partners. Romney said he would try to find like-minded Democrats in Washington to work with him on issues like education, Medicare and taxes (Memoli and Mehta, 10/7).

Los Angeles Times: Romney, Focusing On Crucial Florida, Shows A More Personal Side
Both campaigns have been appealing to seniors, who are among the highest-propensity voters here. During a visit to Jacksonville during the summer, Obama argued that Romney's vow to repeal the Democrats' new healthcare law would cause 200,000 Floridians to pay more for prescription drugs, and he accused Romney of trying to turn Medicare into a voucher program. … Romney accuses Obama of distorting his plan, noting that it would affect only those under 55, and that future seniors could choose traditional Medicare, though he has not been specific about their level of benefits. The former Massachusetts governor has focused on a $716-billion cut from Medicare to help pay for the new healthcare law (Reston, 10/6).

Also in the headlines, news outlets analyze specific health policies advocated by candidates and how they are playing on the campaign trail.

Bloomberg: Romney's Preexisting Conditions Put 36 Million At Risk
Mitt Romney vows he'll extend health insurance to people with preexisting medical conditions, a pledge that comes with few details and strings attached. The Republican presidential nominee says he would shield workers who have coverage from being dropped if they change jobs. Romney's plan doesn't explain what it would do for many others, such as those with ailments seeking coverage for the first time. Without specifics, he would leave it to the states to find solutions for everyone not covered under his proposal. Health-policy specialists say the plan echoes protections in a 1996 U.S. law and doesn't show how it would help at least 36 million sick people at risk of being denied coverage (Faler, 10/8).

Politico: Romney's Pre-Existing Condition Plan: A Tweak And A Handoff To The States
Mitt Romney's campaign wants you to ignore all the annoying questions about his plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions. The policy, it says, is "clear and consistent." It hasn't been clear enough, though, to allow the Romney campaign to shake the lingering questions — from the Obama campaign but also from independent fact-checkers — about whether Romney would do anything that the law doesn't already require, and whether he would cover anyone who isn't already covered. The Obama campaign has already put out a Web ad saying Romney's plan is no plan. And President Barack Obama himself poked fun at the Romney campaign for having to fact-check and pull back their own candidate's claims. "That's rough," he said at a rally in Virginia Friday (Kenen, 10/5).

CNN: Longtime Republicans Torn Between Party Loyalty And Obamacare
Jill Thacker was dying for a cup of coffee when she recently ran into a 7-Eleven convenience store. To her pleasant surprise, the coffee was free -- as long as she would commit to drinking it in either a red Mitt Romney cup or a blue Barack Obama cup. "Which are you going to choose, Mom?" her son asked. Which, indeed. A gun-owning, big-government-hating Republican, Thacker's every instinct told her to buy a Romney cup. But Thacker, 56, and her daughter have asthma -- a pre-existing condition -- and with Obama as president they'll be guaranteed the ability to buy insurance. Thacker stood in the 7-Eleven and stared at the red and blue cups, stymied by the choice they represented. Perhaps no other election has posed such a difficult personal decision for some conservatives: How do you vote if you're ideologically conservative, but you're benefiting, or stand to benefit, from the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as "Obamacare"?  (Cohen, 10/7).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Romney Favors Health Care Competition, Gives Few Details
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney oversaw the most ambitious revamping of a health care system by any state in the country. As a presidential candidate, he contends that's how health care reform should be handled: state by state. Romney has provided few specifics on what the federal government would do to help states expand coverage for uninsured Americans or make the health care system more efficient. But he has made clear he thinks that competition and giving consumers the ability to choose among a variety of health plans and providers can lead to better quality at a lower cost. "The general approach is there," said Nina Owcharenko, a policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy and research organization. "But the details -- I guess we will just have to wait and see" (Boulton, 10/7).

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Healthcare Law: Historic Reform And Signature Failure
As the president seeks reelection, the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, stands as a historic achievement, ending a decades-long quest by Democrats — and some Republicans — to guarantee healthcare to all Americans. At the same time, Obama's inability to bring the parties together represents a signature failure. The president, who promised to break Washington's partisan stalemate, would sign the most consequential legislation in modern history passed by only one party (Levey, 10/6).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major 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.