By Frances Padilla & Lynne Ide
It’s premature to predict what impact the November 2016 elections will have on the health care landscape in our state and nation. But it is safe to say that the ground on which we stand is shifting and we should all be prepared for change – and a fight.
The problems that people face with their health care did not go away on November 8 – no matter who they elected. Health care costs are rising faster than wages. Too many people avoid going to the doctor because of high co-pays and deductibles. Prescription drug costs are out of control. And some people are seeing 20-40% increases in premiums.
So, what lies ahead in this new political landscape?
Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be repealed and replaced? And, what does “repeal and replace” really mean?
Will we return to the pre-ACA days when most bold health care change had to happen at the state level?
Will our state’s elected leaders make progress on the health care work they have started?
- Preserving, building and improving Access Health CT (our state’s health care exchange)
- The Healthcare Cabinet’s cost-containment study (recommendations for state action due this December)
- Review of the regulatory oversight of the hospital and health care delivery system via the Certificate of Need Task Force (recommendations for state action due Jan. 2017)
- Continued implementation and adjustments to the State Innovation Model (SIM) plan
- …and many more initiatives
Like it or not, the voters chose change on November 8:
At the federal level:
- President-elect Donald Trump
- A U.S. House and Senate controlled by Republicans – yet Senate Republicans do not have 60 seats, and therefore the Senate is subject to Democratic filibuster
- Trump will appoint new leaders of federal agencies and bodies that have oversight of health care-related programs
- A President, Congress and significant part of the American populace that is chomping at the bit to “repeal and replace” the ACA
- At least one imminent new appointee to the Supreme Court that will likely change the ideological balance of the nation’s highest court
At the state level:
- A state legislature that is closer to bipartisan control than ever – with the Senate tied at 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans; and the House with a thin Democratic majority of 79 to 72 Republicans (and two recounts scheduled to happen by Nov. 16)
- Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman is the tie-breaker vote in 18-18 Senate
Advocates and policy makers must be ready to take advantage of new opportunities for progress, as well as meet the pressing need to protect hard fought progress in coverage and care for people – particularly those who are moderate- and low-income.
You can be sure that Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut will fight to preserve the strides we have made in expanding health care coverage.
We won’t stop there, though. We will continue our fight to make the system work for everyone. Because we all need better care, better prices and better health.
There is sure to be much prognosticating and posturing in the coming weeks. Time will tell us more about what is in store for health care, as the new President, Congress, state legislature and powerful vested interests are set to swing into action in 2017.
We will keep you posted as things unfold.
But for now – we better get ready for change.