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Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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NE Advocates Hope Next Debate Keeps Focus on Dueling Medicare Plans

PHOTO: The David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University, site of the second 2012 presidential debate. Courtesy Hofstra University
PHOTO: The David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at Hofstra University, site of the second 2012 presidential debate. Courtesy Hofstra University
October 15, 2012

BOSTON - Health care was the subject of heated exchanges in the vice presidential debate, and advocates in New England and the nation are hoping both parties' dueling reform plans get even more serious scrutiny in Tuesday night's Obama-Romney rematch.

During the vice presidential debate, Republican nominee Paul Ryan accused the current administration of having an Obamacare board that would "lead to denied care for current seniors."

Ned Helms, director of the Institute for Health Policy and Practice at UNH, says quite the opposite is true, as the Affordable Care Act expands to reach more Massachusetts residents of all ages.

"Businesses are getting rebates for the premiums that they pay. Kids with pre-existing conditions are now being covered. People see it in their day-to-day lives. It's very real for them. It's about time that it became real for the politicians."

Romney has indicated there are "some parts" of the Affordable Care Act he would like to preserve, but has yet to be specific as to how his plan would pay for them. Romney and Obama meet again Tuesday night in New York to debate foreign and domestic policy.

Romney says repealing the Affordable Care Act is a top priority.

Marc Steinberg, deputy director of health policy at Families USA, says that move would mean more than 65,000 Bay Staters would lose the financial assistance they are currently getting with their prescription drug costs.

"The average value of that help per person is $597 in 2011. Under the Romney plan, however, that help goes away and the coverage gap gets bigger and bigger each year."

Steinberg cites a far greater number: 656,000 seniors and people with disabilities in Massachusetts would no longer get free preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA