Some Democratic Candidates Make Hay With Little-Noticed Health Law Provision

Also in the headlines: a variety of reports on House and Senate races from across the country including some key House races in California, New York, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Illinois; as well as Senate contests in Connecticut, Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The New York Times: Democrats Use Health Law To Assail Republicans
A little-noticed provision of the new health care law is causing big headaches for some members of Congress in this year's elections. And it is likely to cause even bigger headaches for lawmakers next year (Pear, 10/18).

Los Angeles Times: Democrats Have A Shot At Key House Seats In Inland Empire Region
The most coveted demographic in the district is residents 55 and older -- about half the voter pool. That has made Medicare a focus of the campaign (Willon, 10/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: In Conn. Senate Race, McMahon Says She Offers No Specifics On Some Issues To Avoid Criticism
Republican candidate Linda McMahon says she hasn't offered specifics throughout Connecticut's Senate race for changing Social Security and Medicare because she would be "demagogued" for her ideas. Senior citizens issues have been a key point of contention in the close race to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent. McMahon and Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy are running to replace him (10/18).

The New York Times: Women's Issues At Fore In Final Debate For Connecticut Senate Seat
Mr. Murphy, a Democratic three-term congressman, tried repeatedly to put Ms. McMahon, the Republican, on the defensive on issues concerning women. He noted his strong support from women's organizations, Ms. McMahon's opposition to requiring that employer-provided health insurance cover contraceptive services, and the national Republican support for overturning Roe v. Wade. And Mr. Murphy, 39, tried to link her election to the possibility that Ms. McMahon, 64, could become the 51st Senate vote for a Republican agenda antithetical to the values of Connecticut voters (Applebome, 10/18).

Politico: McMahon And Murphy Spar Over Abortion
Abortion and access to birth control took center stage in the fourth and final Connecticut Senate debate between former WWE CEO Linda McMahon and Rep. Chris Murphy. While both candidates said they strongly support abortion rights, Murphy is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.  The Democrat worked to portray McMahon as anti-abortion, saying her election could lead to the nomination of a Supreme Court judge who would help overturn Roe. V. Wade (Nocera, 10/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: McCaskill Casts Akin As Extreme While He Links Her To Obama Policies In Missouri Senate Debate
McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, asserted Akin has an "extreme record" on women's issues, education, Medicare and Social Security, among other things. It's "moderate versus extreme. I think there's a very big choice for Missourians to make," she said (10/18).

The New York Times: GOP Congresswoman In Fight To Retain A Hudson Valley Seat
To Sean Patrick Maloney, Representative Nan Hayworth is a Tea Party extremist who callously votes to slash health care for women and the elderly while protecting the wealthy. … This fall features many bitter fights for House seats in New York State. But the contest for the 18th District is among the most intense, featuring tart-toned television advertisements, drawing millions of dollars from across the country and attracting luminaries like former President Bill Clinton, who was a guest at a fund-raiser for Mr. Maloney hosted by Diana L. Taylor, the girlfriend of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (Hernandez, 10/18).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Michele Bachmann Seems Likely To Win But Other House Tea Party Icons Face Re-Election Hurdles
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's tendency to cause a ruckus on Capitol Hill made her a tea party sensation. … Three other high-profile House conservatives, facing opponents insisting that their views are too extreme, have trickier paths to re-election next month. … Bachmann abandoned a short-lived run for the GOP presidential nomination last winter. She has stirred tea party voters by her opposition to Obama's health care law, resisting an increase in the federal borrowing limit and frowning on spending deals struck by her own party (10/18).

The Associated Press: Baldwin, Thompson Spar Over Health Care
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson and Democratic challenger Tammy Baldwin sparred over Medicare, health care reform and sanctions against Iran in a freewheeling second debate Thursday for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat. Polls show the race to be a dead heat, and both candidates tried to hammer home key themes of their campaigns at the debate on the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County in Wausau (Bauer, 10/18).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Thompson, Baldwin Wrangle Over Health Care, Economy In Testy Debate
Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin tussled in a debate Thursday over the economy, health care, the federal deficit and Iran as they battle for the upper hand in a razor-close race that could determine control of the Senate. … The two also tangled over health care. Baldwin voted for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and has backed a single-payer system that would have the federal government fund health care costs for all Americans. Thompson has railed against Obamacare, saying he would vote to repeal it and replace it with a voucher-like plan similar to the one authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville, the Republican vice presidential candidate (Marley and Bergquist, 10/18).

The Associated Press: Medicare A Top Issue In Mass. US Senate Contest
The future of Medicare is taking center stage in Massachusetts' U.S. Senate race, with both candidates saying the other would jeopardize benefits to seniors and put the long-term solvency of the health insurance program at risk. Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has criticized Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren in recent days, saying she supports "gutting Medicare by three quarters of a trillion dollars" by backing the federal health care law signed by President Obama (LeBlanc, 10/18).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Senior Issues At Center Of RI Congressional Race
Medicare, Social Security and health care reform are taking center stage in the race to represent Rhode Island 's 1st Congressional District. Incumbent Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, 51, blasts congressional Republicans, who have proposed holding down Medicare costs with a voucher system and for voting repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which reduced prescription drug costs for those on Medicare while also reforming the nation's health care system. Republican Brendan Doherty, 53, the former head of the state police making his first run for political office, says he wants to give more benefits to those on Social Security while slightly raising the retirement age and has pledged to vote against cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits (Smith, 10/18).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Smith, Casey Tangle Over [Medicare], Social Security
Protecting Social Security and Medicare are emerging as high-profile issues in Pennsylvania's increasingly contentious race for U.S. Senate, as Democratic Sen. Bob Casey tries to fend off Republican challenger Tom Smith and gain the upper hand with crucial senior voters. Pennsylvania, at nearly 16 percent, has one of the highest proportions of residents who are at least 65 years old. Casey went on the attack in a Philadelphia news conference Thursday, highlighting his opposition to Smith's support for giving future Medicare recipients the option to take a government check to help buy coverage from a private insurer (Matheson, 10/19).

Chicago Sun-Times: Abortion Front And Center In Final Walsh-Duckworth Debate
It's perhaps the most closely watched congressional race in the nation, and Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republican Joe Walsh didn't disappoint TV viewers Thursday night -- serving up a heated exchange over the hot-button issue of abortion. Duckworth charged that Walsh "would let a woman die," rather than allow her to have an abortion…The incumbent Republican countered that Duckworth was out of step, favoring taxpayer-funded abortions (Korecki, 10/18).

Roll Call: Illinois: Joe Walsh's Todd Akin Moment?
Rep. Joe Walsh asserted Thursday night that an abortion is "absolutely" never medically necessary to save a woman’s life because of "modern technology and science," according to multiple local media accounts. The Illinois Republican does not support abortion in any circumstance -- including in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman -- and the issue was a focus of his debate with Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth (Shiner, 10/19).

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.