With GOP Losses, Obamacare Heads For Expansion And Calm
After two years of Republican legislative attacks on the Affordable Care Act, the law providing individual coverage to more than 20 million Americans is about to enter a period of calm and expansion, healthcare executives and industry analysts say.
The 2016 election of Donald Trump and GOP control of both houses of Congress resurrected the idea that the ACA could be repealed and the Medicaid expansion rolled back or eliminated. That would have been a disaster for health insurance companies that placed big bets on the ACA like Centene, Molina Healthcare and startups like Oscar Health and Bright Health.
Instead, last Tuesday’s midterms gave Democrats control of the U.S. House of Representatives and winning ballot initiatives in three Republican-leaning states to expand Medicaid under the ACA. The prospect of bipartisan healthcare solutions and more than 250,000 newly insured Americans in Nebraska, Utah and Idaho where public ballot measures passed will be welcome for doctors, hospitals and insurers administering the benefits.
What’s more, the “repeal Obamacare” battle cry of Republicans has essentially died with several GOP conservatives failing to win governorships in Wisconsin and Kansas where outgoing Republican governors have stymied Medicaid expansion.
“I am hopeful that the most recent election –which did not give control of all three branches of government to one party—will ideally create an environment that requires a level of cooperation that fosters policies that are more inclusive of the population in general,” Centene chief executive Michael Neidorff said last week after the election. “The one thing these past elections at the state and federal level have shown is that there is tremendous bi-partisan support to provide high quality, efficient and affordable care to all Americans, including the poor and working poor. The elimination of pre-existing conditions from a policy is also very important to the greater public.”
Exit polling in several key races showed healthcare was a top issue for voters, particularly in races where Republicans were defeated like Nevada’s U.S. Senate race where Jacky Rosen beat Dean Heller and in Congressional races across the country that awarded Democrats control of the U.S. House.