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Speculation persists about health care in State of the Union

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Speculation persists about health care in State of the Union

Reclaiming public support for the health overhaul will be one of President Barack Obama's challenges in tonight's State of the Union address.

Politico: A State Of The Union Challenge: Health Reform
President Barack Obama will have two challenges when he talks about his signature health care law Tuesday night: Get the public back on his side, and don't spend too much time on it. It will be Obama's first State of the Union address since he signed health care reform into law in March, and the public is still deeply divided over his biggest legislative accomplishment. Anything he says will be picked apart by groups on the left and the right – not to mention the entire health care industry – for clues about how strongly he'll stand behind the law (Nather, 1/25).

NPR: Obama Takes The Capitol Stage On Surer Footing
Last year, Obama's State of the Union task was to shore up support for his foundering health care initiative and reassure his increasingly skeptical base that he was still the guy they voted for. ... In the past year, he and Democrats muscled through the health care legislation, and he made good on other speech promises, including the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay American service members (Halloran, 1/25).

Kaiser Health News: Psst, Mr. President, A little Advice on Your SOTU Remarks
Kaiser Health News reporter Jenny Gold asked nine health policy experts to share their views on what points they would like President Obama to make in his speech (Gold, 1/24).

Meanwhile, news outlets also provide insights into Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the GOP budgeteer who has been tapped to give the Republican response, and what his message will be.

The New York Times: Republicans' Budget Man Draws Fire
But now Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican point man on spending cuts and designated responder to the State of the Union address, has emerged as the latest chew toy among Democrats. They spent Monday beginning a campaign to portray him as the architect of fiscal policies that they view as unwise and hope will prove unpopular among voters, including plans to partially privatize Social Security and Medicare (Steinhauer and Herszenhorn, 1/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan Is Republican Point Man
In elevating Mr. Ryan, Republican leaders are taking what Democrats believe is a political risk. He has written an anti-deficit plan that includes politically explosive ideas — replacing Medicare with vouchers and allowing some workers to invest Social Security taxes in private accounts — that go beyond what even many Republicans are prepared to embrace. But conservatives counter that the 2010 election outcome showed he is precisely the kind of political figure to put forth as the face of the Republican Party (Hook, 1/25).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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