Deficit Continues To Be Test For Obama -- With Debate About Medicare And Medicaid Central To Both Campaigns

The New York Times reports that with the deficit over $1 trillion, President Barack Obama and GOP presidential pick Mitt Romney propose different prescriptions, especially regarding government health programs. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports on how health firms are preparing for possible election outcomes.

The New York Times: Test For Obama As Deficit Stays Over $1 Trillion
Mr. Romney is proposing to reduce the deficit and encourage economic growth by substantially shrinking the government — unrealistically so, in the judgment of many budget experts — while further cutting taxes and increasing spending on the military. He would inject more private sector competition into Medicare to rein in the quickly growing costs of health insurance for older people and would limit Medicaid payments to fixed amounts to the states. Mr. Obama wants to combine spending cuts and tax increases on upper-income households to close the fiscal hole without fundamentally reducing the role of government or altering the government guarantees at the heart of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Those programs account for 40 percent of federal spending, and they will grow to half in a decade as more baby boomers claim benefits (Calmes, 9/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Firms Size Up Election Outcomes
The close presidential election race is forcing the health-care industry to size up potential policy changes that could eventually switch millions of seniors to private insurance plans. Republican nominee Mitt Romney wants to eventually shift Medicare recipients to private insurance coverage, a provision that his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), helped pass through the House. At the same time, the pair pledges to wipe away the Obama administration's health-overhaul law (Radnofsky, 9/25).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New Health Care Act Has Businesses Uncertain
Sandersville auto dealer Jimmy Childre Jr. likely knows more about the Affordable Care Act than most business owners. As CEO of Washington County Regional Medical Center, he also runs a hospital. But when asked about the full impact of the new health care law on his dealership and on insurance for his 15 employees, even he is not 100 percent sure….Uncertainty, in a word, was the underlying theme of a health care forum put on by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday (Markiewicz, 9/25).

Also in the news, a new swing state ad by Planned Parenthood targets Romney on women's health issues, while the Obama campaign highlights his comments on how the uninsured can get health care in emergency rooms -

The Hill: Planned Parenthood Targets Romney In New Swing-State Ad
Planned Parenthood's political wing is launching a new television ad calling Mitt Romney "out of touch" on women's health — the latest attempt by the group to alienate women voters from the GOP presidential ticket. The new 33-second spot will air this week in Virginia and next week in Ohio. Both markets are swing states where the women's vote will be crucial to the result of the election. "The Republican ticket needs to be held accountable for their out-of-touch policy positions that would have a disastrous and measurable impact on women and their families," Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) executive vice president Dawn Laguens said in a statement on the ad buy (Viebeck, 9/25).

The Hill: Team Obama Jumps On Romney For Saying ERs A Care Plan For Uninsured
President Obama's campaign is targeting Mitt Romney for saying that uninsured Americans can seek care in emergency rooms. The Obama team released a Web video Monday night juxtaposing the GOP presidential nominee's remark to CBS with previous, contradictory statements he made about ER care in 2010. The Obama video charges that the former governor "knows ER treatment is expensive and inefficient, so why does he say it's a solution now?" (Viebeck, 9/25).

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