A Health Leader’s Guide to Election Day

Today is Election Day, with control of Congress up for grabs and a number of health care measures on the ballot across the country. Here’s how the healthcare industry could be affected by the 2022 midterms.

Who will control Congress?

As it stands, it remains uncertain which party will control Congress The Washington Post reports. According to Publishthere are at least eight Senate races whose average poll results put them within five percentage points.

If Republicans win a majority in Congress, experts say they expect a greater degree of control from Congress than before. “Whenever you have one party in control of Congress and another party in the administration, oversight is heightened,” said JC Scott, president and CEO of Association for Pharmaceutical Care Management.

Scott said he expects the Republican majority to focus on overseeing how federal agencies implement the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. The The Washington Post also notes that Republicans are likely to investigate the Biden administration’s pandemic response, including how pandemic aid dollars were spent, as well as the origins of Covid-19.

“There could be a lot of hearings, a lot of testimony from management HHS and CMSand a desire to understand the sausage-making process by getting the administration to go on the record and talk about what they’re doing and what their goals are,” Scott said. “This becomes an opportunity on a political basis for them to re-submit the essence of a bill that many Republicans disliked because it was passed through a partisan reconciliation process.”

According to Tara Straw, senior advisor at Manatt Health, if Democrats lose the House, the Senate, or both, “you can foresee a lot of investigations into administration actions that could stall legislation.” These investigations will look at “administrative actions, administrative rules, do they have the legal authority to [issue] a particular rule or looking at the guts or process of a rule,” Straw said.

Joseph Antos, Senior Fellow and Wilson H. Taylor Fellow in Health and Retirement Policy at American Enterprise Institutesaid that if Republicans take control of the House or Senate, “they will be more vigorous in drafting proposals and moving forward proposals to reduce what Democrats have done over the last two years, rather than to initiate really new initiatives.”

However, if Democrats retain control of Congress, they could try to pass several of the health care priorities that were left out of the Inflation Reduction Act, according to Chris Jennings, founder and president of Jennings Health Strategies.

This could include closing the Medicaid coverage gap, adding funding for Medicaid home and community-based services, and adopting maternal and child health policies, including permanent authorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as mandatory 12- monthly Medicaid coverage after birth, said Jennifer Taylor, senior director of federal relations at Families USA.

Additionally, many states also have citizen-led petitions on the ballot, including:

  • Abortion ballot measures in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont
  • Vote to expand Medicaid to about 42,000 South Dakota residents
  • Vote to legalize marijuana in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota
  • Ballot measure aimed at reducing medical debt in Arizona
  • Vote to tighten regulations on California dialysis clinics
  • Oregon votes to declare health care a human right

The importance of health care issues to voters

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research from October 10 to 16, health care is one of the top five issues influencing voters in the 2022 midterm elections.

When asked which topics were “very important” to their vote this year:

  • 79% of those who voted said the economy
  • 70% of those who voted said “the future of democracy in the country”
  • 64% of those who voted indicated education
  • Health care was said by 63% of those who voted
  • 61% of those who voted said energy policy
  • 61% of those who voted said they were violent crimes

In addition, 56% of voters said abortion was very important to their vote this year, a number largely led by Democratic voters, as 75% of Democrats listed abortion as very important to their vote, compared to just 39% by the Republicans.

Meanwhile, only 23% of voters said the coronavirus outbreak was very important to their vote, down from about a third of those polled who said the same in March.

In a separate survey of 1,534 American adults conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation from September 15-26, half of voters said the repeal of Roe v. Wade made them more motivated to vote during the midterm elections, a trend largely driven by Democratic voters.

(Rubein, “Health 202,” The Washington Post, 7/11; Christ, etc., Modern healthcare, 10/18; Frieden, MedPage today, 11/4; Schaeffer/Van Green, Pew Research Center, 11/3; Lopes et al. et al., Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 10/12; rural, Associated Press10/27)

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