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Health Reform and Election 2012: Handicapping What Comes Next

Health Reform and Election 2012: Handicapping What Comes Next

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Now that we've all voted – right? – our attention is turning to how health reform and Medicare changes might be affected by the results of today's election.

First, be sure to sign up for our Thursday webinar on health reform and the election, when leading health journalists and policy experts will offer story ideas and new insights based on election results.

Here's more analysis on what might happen depending on outcome of Presidential and Senate races today:

With President Barack Obama ahead in the polls, healthcare blogger Maggie Mahar looks to the Senate races as a key factor determining the future of health reform, writing:

While all eyes focus on the presidential race, the ultimate fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could depend on the Senate contests in the states…If Republicans take the (currently Democratic-controlled) Senate, the two chambers could pass legislation that would:

  • eliminate the premium subsidies designed to make health insurance affordable for middle-income and low-income families
  • bring an end to Medicaid expansion, and
  • rescind the individual mandate that everyone buy insurance or pay a tax.

Writing for Kaiser Health News, Jay Hancock points out that "an Obama win would immediately highlight the challenge of opening subsidized, online insurance marketplaces on time by 2014. Both the administration and most states are deemed to be behind schedule."

Also at Kaiser Health News, Julie Appleby handicaps what employers are likely to do post-election, noting (to employees' relief) that:

No matter who wins the presidential election, most workers who get health insurance through their jobs won't see a lot of immediate changes in their health benefits.

Employers will continue looking for ways to cap expenses, moving toward higher deductible policies, or placing limits on how much they pay toward their workers’ premiums -- both trends that predate the federal health law, analysts say.

And Ezra Klein of the Washington Post highlights how, counterintuitively, the Tea Party may have helped some Senate Democrats keep their seats and control of the Senate, and thus "protect Obamacare."

Photo credit: Ho John Lee via Flickr

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