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Health care reform: Not as unpopular as everyone thought

Posted in: Health care   Election 2012
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Obamacare was a big winner at the Democratic convention last week, where the law was praised and its most popular provisions highlighted.  On Sunday, it received another (sort of) plug, when Mitt Romney seemed to step back from his pledge to dismantle health care reform from top to bottom if elected.

Romney, who throughout the campaign has tried to distance himself from the Massachusetts health care reform law, spoke with David Gregory on Meet the Press and praised portions of Obamacare [starts at 20:17]: “I say we’re going to replace Obamacare, and I’ll replace it with my own plan. And you know even in Massachusetts where I was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people,” Romney said. “I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform of course. There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place.”

Mother Jones reports that the Romney campaign issued a couple of clarifications after the interview, but as Sarah Kliff notes in the Washington Post, Romney’s position on coverage for people pre-existing conditions isn’t new. Romney’s plan would prevent those with pre-existing conditions from being denied a plan if they have had “continuous coverage,” or if they’ve paid for insurance every month and then enroll in a new plan. It differs significantly from Obamacare, which allows anyone to gain access to coverage regardless of their past insurance status.

After all, a reversal of such policies is tough to advocate now that their effects are making headlines. Many parts of the bill poll well, and a new report out today found that the percentage of young adults who lack health insurance fell significantly, even as the rate of uninsured people rose among other age groups, an indicator that Obamacare is responsible for much of the improvement.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, despite all the progress made in bringing most residents under a health insurance umbrella, cost remains a huge problem. Two stories in the Globe highlight the continuing financial strain medical care imposes on the economy. Employers are increasingly shifting the costs of benefits onto their employees to offset increases in health insurance expenses, and the amount of medical debt held by Massachusetts residents has not improved since 2006, when health care reform passed.

                                                                                                                               --CHRISTINA PRIGNANO

BEACON HILL

The Lowell Sun totes up per diems for legislators during 2012.

Former state treasurer Tim Cahill plans to ask a court to dismiss corruption charges against him, the Associated Press reports (via Telegram & Gazette).

The Boston Globe says the state’s Governor’s Council should be scrapped.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Quincy city councilors want to question representatives from the mayor’s office about the city’s purchase of foreclosed property for 3-½ times its assessed value.

Scituate’s state lawmakers say the town’s request for the Legislature to change language that holds housing authority members responsible for accounting errors will be a tough sell on Beacon Hill.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The New York Times reports that this year’s election may hinge on legal battles over when and how ballots should be cast.

ELECTION 2012

Not even waiting to see a debate, the Eagle-Tribune endorses Mitt Romney. Romney isn’t faring as well in battleground states as he is with the Eagle’s editorial board: Out of the several states he needs to turn red, he’s ahead in just one, North Carolina. The New York Times finds actual policy missing from Romney’s tax policy.

Google data shows interest in Mitt Romney’s religion spiked last month with “Romney Mormon” leading in searches related to topics about the GOP candidate. The phrase was followed in popularity by “Bain,” “tax returns," "dog on roof," and "etch a sketch."

The Chronicle of Philanthropy runs a side-by-side comparison of Romney’s and President Obama’s records and positions on nonprofit issues. The Atlantic argues that both candidates are only paying lip service to middle class issues.

President Obama raises more campaign cash than Mitt Romney in August. New York magazine examines former President Bill Clinton’s new campaign surrogate role.

The New Yorker weighs in on Elizabeth Warren, athrowback to a more combative progressive tradition.” (Unfortunately, it’s subscriber only.) Boston magazine runs dueling profiles of Sen. Scott Brown and Warren. Herald columnist Kimberly Atkins chews on Brown’s bipartisanship claims, arguing that sometimes Brown “simply looks bipolar.”

US Rep. Niki Tsongas and Republican challenger Jon Golnik mix it up a bit on women’s issues, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The North Adams Transcript thinks that US Rep. Richard Neal might be good for the small communities of the northern Berkshires. Neal picked up the Berkshires as a result of redistricting.

There could be some surprises in Metro West legislative races. There already is a surprise in Brockton. The House’s 11th Plymouth District will not have a Brockton resident as representative for the first time in decades after two Easton candidates won the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Missouri and the national GOP wait to see if Rep. Todd Akin will drop out the US Senate race in the “Show Me” state.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Republican hails MassMutual’s continued growth as “very good news for the company and the region’s economy.”

Radio Boston asks: Is Boston doing enough to hold on to its entrepreneurs.

Time examines Apple’s interest in streaming music.

Mexicans are eager to buy American-made products.

The federal government prepares to sell a big chunk of its piece of AIG.

The US poverty rate is soaring, and not getting enough attention on the campaign trail, the Globe reports.

RELIGION

A gay couple sues after the Diocese of Worcester denies a bid to purchase a property affiliated with the church, the Globe reports. CommonWealth reported on land sale restrictions imposed by the Church in its most recent issue.

EDUCATION

At odds over evaluations and health care, Chicago teachers go on strike,  putting 400,000 students out of school, NPR reports (via WBUR).

Newsweek asks: Is college a lousy investment?

Somerset’s director of special education abruptly resigned to take an interim position in Seekonk in violation of her contract that requires 120-days notice.

Boston Public Schools now offer free breakfast to all students, the Globe reports.

HEALTH CARE

Playgrounds for seniors are popping up across the United States, Governing reports.

Despite health care reform, debt due to medical bills has remained a problem in Massachusetts, the Globe reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Cape Cod Times argues that, with municipal trash disposal contract fees set to increase, towns need to be more pro-active about encouraging recyling and other trash reducing measures.

In the National Review, the director of policy for Americans for Prosperity, the conservative PAC funded by the oil-rich Koch brothers, calls for Congress to let the wind production tax credit expire this year.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A thief stole the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the grounds of St. Ann’s Catholic church in Raynham.

MEDIA

The Wall Street Journal reports on reader blowback in New Orleans since the Times-Picayune began moving away from a 7-day publishing week.

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