Medicare, Health Law Are Common Themes In House And Senate Races

The Associated Press reports that outside spending -- which includes ads about Medicare and abortion rights -- are rocking various House campaigns. Plus: updates regarding Senate races in Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Spending By Outside Groups Rocks Many House Races
Rep. Dan Lungren knows what it's like to have a big bull's eye plastered on his back. The Democratic Party and labor and environmental groups have spent $4.7 million on TV commercials and other efforts to unseat the nine-term Republican congressman from California. That makes him one of the biggest targets of outside groups, which are throwing unprecedented sums of money into House races this year. "I don't recognize the person they're portraying," Lungren said about the ads that paint him as an ally of Wall Street and enemy of Medicare and abortion rights. He added, "Yeah, these ads have a considerable impact" (10/27).

The New York Times: Missouri Senate Poll Shows McCaskill's Lead Narrowing
The Missouri Senate race has narrowed to a dead heat, according to a new poll released on Saturday, a drastic turnaround since Representative Todd Akin, the Republican challenging incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill, upended the race with controversial comments about rape two months ago. ... The economy, jobs, healthcare and Medicare were the most important issues for 63 percent of voters who had made up their minds, according to the poll. Mr. Akin's rape remarks were either somewhat important or very important to 53 percent of decided voters, the poll said (Eligon, 10/27).

NPR: Iraq Vet Takes On Tea-Party Incumbent In Fiery Illinois House Race
The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat. When the two political opponents get together, it doesn't take long for the fireworks to begin. They've battled over spending cuts, taxes, Medicare, social security, and in a recent debate on public television, Walsh's opposition to abortion, without exception (Schaper, 10/28).

Politico: Johnson: Abortion Not An Issue
Sen. Ron. Johnson says abortion is not an issue in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Republican told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that he's only had one person discuss the abortion issue this election cycle. "It's not even an issue here in Wisconsin," Johnson said after being asked about the impact controversial statements some Republican candidates like Richard Mourdock in Indiana have made. "It doesn't even move the radar at all (Palmer, 10/28).

Meanwhile, health policy issues are cropping up in the Vermont governor's race and around a Missouri ballot measure -

The Associated Press: Vermont Governor's Race: Brock Slams Shumlin On Health Care 
Randy Brock knows he's way behind Gov. Peter Shumlin in fundraising and that early polls show the Democratic incumbent with a big lead. One impediment to business growth, as Brock sees it, is a push by Shumlin and the Democratic-controlled Legislature to move Vermont to a universal, publicly financed health care system.Shumlin maintains that replacing employer-provided health insurance with a public system will be a boon to business, but Brock says uncertainty about how the governor's plan will be paid for is scaring off many businesses (Gram, 10/27).

The Associated Press: Missouri To Vote, Again, On Part Of Obama Health Law
Missouri voters will get another chance to register an opinion on a portion of President Barack Obama's health care law with a Nov. 6 ballot measure that would prohibit the governor from creating an online shopping site known as a health insurance exchange. But much like Missouri's August 2010 referendum on an insurance mandate in Obama's health care law, the latest vote may carry more symbolism than substance (Lieb, 10/26).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 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.