First Edition: October 12, 2012

Today's headlines include the health policy highlights from last night's vice presidential debate.

Kaiser Health News: Chris Christie Considers New Medicaid Math
WNYC's Fred Mogul, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, writes: "As a way to reduce the number of uninsured, states are being encouraged to set more generous income limits for Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. If states comply, they can get 100 percent federal funding in the first three years, declining to 90 percent funding over time. Typically, states and the federal government share the burden at a ratio that's closer to 50-50" (Mogul, 10/11). Read the story.

Los Angeles Times: Vice Presidential Debate Gets Prickly On Healthcare
As the candidates for vice president parried, Ryan accused the Obama administration of "getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar," and Biden charged that the plans proposed by Ryan and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would privatize Medicare and wind up cutting benefits for younger people as they approached retirement age (Landsberg, 10/11).

The Wall Street Journal: Understudies Give Viewers A First-Rate Performance
But once the debate got to the differences between the two parties on spending, entitlements and taxes, the sparks flew. The two men couldn't agree any more than their parties have over the past four years. The vice president portrayed Republicans as opposed to the crown jewels of the Democratic Party, Social Security and Medicare. … He found ways to repeatedly drive home the fact that he has been around a lot longer than his 42-year-old Republican opponent. He invoked his dealings with Ronald Reagan, and with the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill. He charged that Republicans put two wars on a credit card. Through it all, Mr. Ryan stood his ground and gave back without flinching, giving as good as he got. He marshaled facts and figures and the details he has mastered as the Republicans' budget wunderkind (Seib, 10/12).

The New York Times: Night Of Withering Ripostes, Mostly Delivered By Biden
It was a sharp and spirited debate, with both candidates delivering some lacerating blows, but Mr. Ryan at times seemed disconcerted by the sheer blowhard intensity Mr. Biden brought to the night. Mr. Ryan tried to be respectful, listening to the vice president with a tilted head, choirboy smile and puppy-dog eyes, but he showed his irritation when Mr. Biden kept interrupting to attack his policy on Medicare. "I know you’re under duress," he told the vice president, prompting another belly laugh (Stanley, 10/12).

The New York Times: Biden Vs. Ryan: No Shy People Onstage
On critical issues, Mr. Ryan did not shy from his and his party's plans to fundamentally alter Medicare. And while Mr. Romney had played down the benefit of the ticket's tax plan for the wealthy, his running mate fell back on Republican orthodoxy, defending "small businesses" and rich households from what he suggested was the rapacious reach of President Obama. …  Mr. Biden was equally steadfast, accusing Mr. Ryan of shifting a health care burden borne for decades by the government onto the elderly, and playing the populist on taxes (Weisman, 10/11).

The New York Times: Bipartisan Spin On Medicare Plan
As Representative Paul D. Ryan debated Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday night, he sometimes seemed to be defending his own past budget and Medicare proposals as much as his running mate's plans — sometimes in misleading ways (Cooper, Weisman and Schmitt, 10/12).

Politico: Medicare Cage Match: Biden Vs. Ryan
In their vice presidential debate Thursday night, Biden accused Ryan and Mitt Romney of trying to dismantle the companion retirement programs. Ryan countered that Biden and President Barack Obama would let them die from neglect. Their hot exchanges lit up the debate hall and illuminated just how hard the two campaigns are fighting over the votes of senior citizens, particularly in swing states, like Florida and Ohio, where their votes could be crucial on Election Day (Allen, 10/10).

The Washington Post: Fact Check: That Medicare Debate
While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. Ryan, as House Budget Committee chairman, probably knows he’s playing a rhetorical game here. Federal budget accounting is so complex that it is easy to mislead ordinary Americans — a tactic used by both parties (Kessler, 10/11).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Ryan Misrepresents Effect Of His Medicare Plan
Rep. Paul D. Ryan claimed inaccurately that the Medicare plan he and Gov. Mitt Romney have proposed would preserve seniors' access to the current Medicare program and would not affect  current retirees (Levey, 10/11).

NPR: Biden, Ryan Bent The Truth At Times, Fact Checkers Say
As expected, Vice President Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan both crossed through some heavily disputed territory. They argued over the $716 billion in reduced Medicare spending that's part of the affordable health care law. And they traded barbs over whether the Republican ticket's plan for overhauling Medicare is a "voucher" program that would effectively replace the guaranteed benefit (Memmott and Montgomery, 10/ 11).

The Washington Post: On Abortion, Paul Ryan Articulates Position Different From Earlier One
An exchange at the end of Thursday night’s vice-presi¬den¬tial debate illustrated the complex — and, at times, difficult-to-reconcile — positions taken by the Republican ticket on the issue of abortion. Moderator Martha Raddatz asked Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the GOP vice-presidential nominee, how a Mitt Romney administration would handle that issue: “Should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?” (Fahrenthold, 10/12).

Los Angeles Times: Abortion: A Brief Quiet Moment In The Vice Presidential Debate
The exchange neatly summarized part of the debate roiling within the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., with the men landing on opposite sides. Biden stressed his concern for caring for the vulnerable -- the Catholic social doctrine -- while Ryan held firm to his belief that life begins at conception. But it was clear the candidates were aiming to reach far beyond Catholic viewers. Female voters are in a position to decide the victor in November, and both men were playing for those votes as they cast their positions as middle-of-the-road (Hennessey, 10/11).

The Washington Post: Biden, Ryan Talk Abortion, Catholic Social Teaching In Vice-Presidential Debate
During their only debate this campaign season Thursday night, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) discussed how their Catholic beliefs have shaped their views on abortion (Hunter, 10/11).

The Washington Post: Fact Check: Losing Health Insurance
What does Ryan mean when he says 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance under Obamacare? … The CBO cautions that there is a "tremendous amount of uncertainty" about how employers and employees will respond to the legislation. "One piece of evidence that may be relevant is the experience in Massachusetts, where employment-based health insurance coverage appeared to increase after that state's reforms," the CBO noted. Mitt Romney, as governor, ushered in health-care legislation that served as a model for Obama's health plan (Kessler, 10/11).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Inside Paul Ryan's Health Insurance Number
Ryan's closing statement included a claim that 20 million people are projected to lose their health insurance once the Obama health law takes effect. That figure likely comes from a possible scenario mentioned deep into this March 2012 set of estimates by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that contemplates what employers might do after 2014 when many will be penalized for not providing insurance but can also look to new options such as subsidies towards the cost of premiums for private insurance or Medicaid coverage for low-income workers (Radnofsky, 10/11).

NPR: Romney: People Don't Die For Lack Of Insurance
Another day, another editorial board, another controversial remark for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. On Wednesday, it was abortion. On Thursday, health care. … But Romney was talking about something slightly different in Ohio: the idea that the U.S. doesn't have people who become ill or die because they don't have insurance. That, however, is belied by a large and growing body of academic studies, starting with a landmark study from the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine in 2002 that found 18,000 people died in the year 2000 because they lacked health insurance (Rovner, 10/11).

Los Angeles Times: Romney Offers Clue On Coverage For Preexisting Conditions
Romney has never said what he would do with people who did not have continuous coverage, but he offered a new clue in an interview that was published Thursday. "Romney, in a meeting with The Dispatch's editorial board, said those who currently don't carry insurance would have a chance to make a 'choice' to be covered without fear of being denied," according to the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. But, according to the paper, he did not elaborate on how these people would gain coverage (Mehta, 10/11).

The New York Times: After Fiery Florida Rally, Obama Focuses On Debate Work
Mr. Obama, when he wants, is light years more effective on the stump than he is in a debate hall. At the University of Miami, the president was energized, displaying the fire that he did not show during the debate. He worked the audience, making people laugh and cheer. And he directed zinger after zinger at Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney, the president charged, "is trying to go through an extreme makeover."  … He chuckled. "Suddenly, he loves the middle class. Can't stop talking about them. He loves Medicare, loves teachers. He even loves the most important parts of Obamacare," he said, referring to the health care overhaul (Cooper and Gabriel, 10/11).

Los Angeles Times: Autism Activism Led Elizabeth Emken To Become GOP Senate Candidate
Recent opinion polls show Feinstein, who has held her seat for two decades, leading the little-known Republican Emken by more than 20 percentage points. Feinstein, who has declined to debate her opponent, also is winning the campaign finance contest, having raised $12.7 million to Emken's $389,000 in the most recent filing period. But Emken, who after years as a parent advocate launched the lobbying arm of a national group called Autism Speaks, is persisting. "It's what I do," she said. "I take on daunting tasks" (Romney, 10/12).

The New York Times: A Feisty Debate Crystallizes Differences In Tight Massachusetts Race
Asked where he would cut the government, Mr. Brown cited President Obama's health care law, which, he said, was crushing Massachusetts businesses. He said the law would remove $700 billion from Medicare, an assertion that Mr. Romney made in last week's presidential debate. "That's the same playbook that Mitt Romney used a week ago tonight," Ms. Warren said. "It was wrong then, it’s wrong tonight." But generally, Ms. Warren did little to link Mr. Brown to Mr. Romney or to the Republican Party (Seelye, 10/11).

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

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.