Commentary by John Kamp, Coalition Executive Director
Oct. 8, 2012 — Health and election news last week featured Coalition for Healthcare Communication fall meeting speakers Jennifer Duffy, J. D. Kleinke and Dr. Kavita Patel, as Romney breathed new life into his campaign and commentators questioned Obama’s focus and performance in Wednesday’s debate.
While we still have a few solid weeks to go before Election Day, we’re seeing more and more clarity on the future of healthcare changes under both parties. That is: No matter who wins, more Americans will be covered, the system will be delivered by a combination of public and private businesses, and every provider will face competitive and price pressures.
In a Sept. 30 op-ed piece in The New York Times Sunday Review, J.D. repeated much of the commentary he shared with us at our meeting (to view the op-ed, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/opinion/sunday/why-obamacare-is-a-conservatives-dream.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Among many interesting points, he noted that the Obama health plan incorporated many Republican ideas and that it is not so different from Romneycare in Massachusetts. In the debate, while repeating his intent to repeal Obamacare on his first day as President, Romney himself just as quickly noted that several popular and private business–friendly provisions would be retained. After hearing Romney’s exceptions, few, other than J.D.’s readers and listeners, seem to ask just what WOULD be repealed.
But, much like the agreement of Patel and Kleinke at our meeting, both candidates repeated one clear message: healthcare costs must be squeezed from every provider or the system will bankrupt the federal treasury.
Meanwhile, throughout the week, many media outlets relied on Kavita Patel”s comments for expertise on Obamacare. The Cook Report’s Duffy told me Friday that the Presidential race still is too close to call, but that a different Obama is sure to show up in the next two debates. For more election insight, see the Cook Report article that nearly looks past the Presidential election and focuses on
Jennifer’s analysis of the Senate (http://www.nationaljournal.com/columns/cook-report/the-cook-report-romney-breaks-his-losing-streak-20121004). There, too, Jennifer says the majority is too close to call.
Cutting through all the media chatter, it’s clear that Romney met Charlie Cook’s pre-debate challenge to keep the race competitive and thus prevent the diversion of critical media advertising money from the top of the ticket to the hotly contested Senate and House races (http://www.nationaljournal.com/columns/cook-report/the-cook-report-shades-of-1996-20120927). Romney remains relevant and likely created enough momentum to keep the race interesting, keep the wags wagging and keep the media dollars flowing into the battleground states.
This week, we’ll see post-debate polling data that undoubtedly will mean more to the outcome of the election than the Vice Presidential candidates’ debate performance. Watch most closely the data on the dwindling number of undecided voters in the battleground states, particularly Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – where Obama’s lead recently looked formidable.
Commentators clearly agree that Romney won big last Wednesday. To me, using tactics comparable to his favorite game of basketball, Obama was playing for the full season victory, still weeks away, perhaps looking past that night’s game. Romney took several three point shots and many counted. Meanwhile, Obama did not look in control of the ball. If Romney critically shaved Obama’s lead, it will take much more aggressive and effective play on the part of the President to avoid an upset.
While we’re now late in the fourth quarter, this game is far from over. Expect more aggressive shots and sharper offense from both parties – and an avalanche of marketing spin. Still, the most important political fact is that Romney needs several more baskets than the President to win this election.
As always, stay tuned.