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Campaign-Inspired Hot Summer Friday Thoughts

August 10, 2012

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Commuting in and out of Manhattan gives me plenty of time to listen to the radio and of course, with Election Day a mere 90 days away, the presidential campaign offers reporters a lot of fodder for commentary. And of course, the evening papers and television stations—both national and local—augment what’s on the radio all day. Here’s a sampling of health care–related campaign news that I’ve heard and read this week.

According to the Kaiser Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll, July figures show that overall, two thirds of Americans support Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but when it comes to whether their own states should expand programs, support drops to less than half (49%), while 43% want to keep the status quo. Importantly for candidates, “four in 10 Americans say they could still change their minds on the law.”

My take: The failure of the Democrats to adequately explain the reforms, together with the misinformation from the Republicans (death panels—need I say more?), are leaving the public confused.  The winner in November will be the candidate who can convince the voters that the ACA is either good or bad for them on a person level. (And yes, the economy is now the overriding issue, but health care will keep resurfacing as an emotional and “values” issue in the coming months.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nevada) accused candidate Mitt Romney of not paying taxes for 10 years while he was employed at Bain Capital. The Washington Post Fact Checker blog details why Reid’s claims don’t ring true—and awards him “four Pinocchios.” (Romney received three Pinocchios when he said it’s “usual” for candidates to only release two years of tax returns.)

My take: it’s going to be a very long 90 days of campaign rhetoric.

And my favorite for the week: several news stories reported that John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of Papa John’s pizza, told shareholders that, to protect their interests, he will be forced to raise pizza prices under “Obamacare.” ABC News reports that he said that “the cost of providing health insurance for all of his pizza chain’s uninsured, full-time employees comes out to about 14 cents on a large pizza,” and he will pass this cost along to customers.

My take: How is this newsworthy? Will customers really drive all the way to the restaurant (at $~4.00 a gallon for gas) and leave when they learn the price is 14 cents more? I can’t wait to hear Jon Stewart’s take on this.

I may start listening to all music, all the time.

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