President Obama's lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on health care and Medicare declined significantly following last week's presidential debate, according to the latest poll from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The survey found that 47% of respondents believe Obama would be better at "dealing with health care," compared with 44% who believe Romney would be better. Meanwhile, 46% of respondents trust Obama more on Medicare, compared with 43% who trust Romney more. Pew's poll from September showed Obama with a 13-percentage-point lead on both questions.
However, the poll showed that Obama still has a significant lead on health care issues among undecided voters. Obama has a 21-percentage-point lead on health care and a 17-percentage-point advantage on Medicare among such voters (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/8).
Romney Faces Difficulty Explaining Health Care Views
Despite Romney's background and experience in health care, the former Massachusetts governor has had difficulty explaining his positions on the issue, the Los Angeles Times reports (Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 10/6).
The latest issue centers around Romney's plan for covering individuals with pre-existing conditions (Faler, Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
Lanhee Chen, Romney's policy director, described Romney's two-step approach in an email. "First, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions who have maintained continuous coverage. ... Second, states will have the flexibility and resources to design programs specific to the needs of those who cannot afford coverage on their own," Chen said.
According to Politico, this would protect individuals who change jobs from losing their health insurance (Kenen, Politico, 10/5). However, health policy experts have said the plan does not help unemployed residents, those who do not work for an employer that offers coverage or those who have gaps in coverage (Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
Meanwhile, Romney also has had trouble with how to frame his connection to the 2006 health reform law he signed as governor of Massachusetts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Romney "barely mention[ed]" the plan for months, but as of late he has begun to promote the law and has even "embraced the idea" that it served as a model for the federal health reform law (Los Angeles Times, 10/6).