Political Issues Swirl Around Healthcare Reform Debate.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the healthcare reform law next week, media coverage is heating up, with print media and television reports focusing largely on the political battle.

The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, A13, Steinhauer, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports, “Republicans on Capitol Hill have put together a highly coordinated two-week renewed assault on the health care law, seizing on the legislation’s second anniversary and the next week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning its constitutionality. … Republicans are hoping to influence election-year public opinion on an issue on which they believe they have a substantive advantage, and to drag the conversation away from areas like access to contraception that have dominated the campaign or divided members in recent weeks, with less success for their party.”

USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Wolf) reports, “Proponents and critics of the landmark law signed by President Obama in 2010 will hold rallies and other events, run TV ads, flood the mail and post videos online in an effort to influence a deeply divided public on the eve of the law’s two-year anniversary and ahead of three days of Supreme Court arguments.” USA notes that on one side of the debate “are the White House, Cabinet officials, the Obama re-election campaign and dozens of liberal groups holding events across the country every day this week,” while on the other side “are Tea Party protesters and conservative groups, along with Republicans in Congress and the Republican National Committee” who “plan larger demonstrations, particularly in the days immediately before and during the court’s deliberations.”

The Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Kliff) reports in its “Wonkblog” that “groups that vehemently disagree about the health reform law seem to have settled on one thing as of late: The next two weeks will be crucial to getting out their message about the Affordable Care Act. … But as much as the focus on the health reform law represents an opportunity, it also presents a challenge for its supporters: How do you sway a public that, for two years now, has been stuck stubbornly in place?” Geoff Garin of the democratic polling firm Peter Hart Research Associates remarked, “The most important changes in attitude will come through people’s own experiences with the law.”

Conservatives Argue For “Repeal Or Nothing.” The New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/20, Weisman) reports in its “The Caucus” blog, “As Republicans observe the second anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the health care law this week, a new motto is emerging that could hurt the law’s implementation: Repeal or nothing.” In a letter to Republican lawmakers, conservative leaders such as former Attorney General Edwin Meese III and activists Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins and Richard Viguerie argued “against efforts to repeal” the IPAB because “going after politically objectionable elements of the law one by one will only make the parts of the law that survive more politically palatable.”

Romney Wants To Retain Ban On Denying Coverage Due To Preexisting Conditions. The CBS Evening News (12/6, story 5, 1:40, Crawford) reported that Romney’s “opposition to President Obama’s healthcare reform law is complicated by his support as governor of a similar universal health care law in Massachusetts,” but Romney “says he would sign an executive order to give states the choice of opting out of parts of the Federal law and would work to convince Congress to repeal it completely. He would provide tax deductions to encourage people to buy insurance,” and “prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. To bring down insurance costs Romney would work to streamline a patchwork of state regulations and he would seek caps on big money awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.”

Santorum Touts Healthcare Reform Alternative Built Around HSAs. According to the CBS Evening News (12/6, story 4, 1:30, Reynolds), Santorum “gets some of his loudest applause when he says his top priority will be to repeal the national healthcare law which President Obama signed two years ago. … Santorum’s alternative would be a major overhaul centered on what he calls health savings accounts,” which “would involve businesses paying less to insure their workers and have more to pay workers in wages. The employees, in turn, would use the money to set up those tax-free health savings accounts for routine medical care — checkups, vaccinations, and so forth.”

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