Health care-related issues, such as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, were barely mentioned during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York on Tuesday, with President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, focusing heavily on other domestic issues, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/17).
Obama and Romney took questions during the debate -- which was conducted in the style of a town-hall meeting with about 80 undecided voters -- on a variety of issues, such as the economy, job creation, immigration and foreign policy (Pittman, MedPage Today, 10/16). While the nominees were not asked specifically about health care issues, they wove them into their responses to the questions (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 10/17).
Obama Criticizes Romney's Stance on Medicare, Women's Health; Touts ACA
More than 30 minutes into the debate, Obama briefly mentioned health care in his response to a question about equal pay for women by citing a provision in the ACA that would provide contraceptive coverage and preventive services without a copayment (MedPage Today, 10/16).
In response to another question about the differences between his challenger and former President George W. Bush, Obama used the opportunity to "cast Romney as an extremist on Medicare and women's health issues," Reuters reports. "In some ways, [Romney] has gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy," Obama said, adding that "Bush didn't propose turning Medicare into a voucher" and he "never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood."
According to Reuters, Obama sought to appeal to elderly voters, who have had concerns about Romney's and Bush's Medicare policies, and women, who depend on Planned Parenthood for health services (Morgan, Reuters, 10/17).
Obama also criticized Romney for shifting positions on universal health coverage, noting that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a health care law that is identical to the ACA (MedPage Today, 10/16).
Romney Criticizes Obama on Medicare, Reiterates Plan To Repeal ACA
Meanwhile, Romney frequently used Obama's four-year record as president to distinguish himself from his opponent, the New York Times reports. Romney credited Obama for being "great as a speaker and describing his vision," adding, "except we have a record to look at" (Rutenberg/Zeleny, New York Times, 10/16).
Romney said, "[Obama] said he'd reform Medicare and Social Security -- he hasn't even made a proposal for either one," adding, "He said middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums, it's gone up by $2,500 a year. If ObamaCare is implemented fully, it will be another $2,500 on top" (Modern Healthcare, 10/17).
In his response to questions about boosting hiring practices and the economy, Romney said he has spoken with small business owners who have said the ACA "keeps them from hiring more people." He later added that "[t]here's no question that ObamaCare has been an extraordinary deterrent" to small businesses. He reiterated his plan to repeal the ACA if he is elected (MedPage Today, 10/16).