Election day is now behind us and it was one for the books. Voters came out in record numbers for the 2018 midterms and changed the landscape of the US Congress while doing so.
So what was it about this year that had voters more motivated to cast their ballot?
Preliminary exit polls published on Tuesday revealed Healthcare as the top concern for voters, taking precedent over issues like the economy, immigration and gun control. It’s the first time this has been the top issue in more than a decade, with 41% of voters identifying it as their leading concern.
Healthcare was presented as the centerpiece of top Democratic campaigns, especially regarding the issue of coverage for Americans with preexisting conditions. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey last month, three-quarters of voters polled wanted to keep protections in place for those with pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is any disease or condition for which an applicant for health insurance has sought medical care. The top pre-existing conditions facing Americans include acne, anxiety, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, COPD, obesity, atherosclerosis, and cancer.
In the final weeks before the election, several high-profile Republican campaigns, including those of Dallas Representative Pete Sessions and Missouri Senator-elect, Josh Hawley, circled back on the issue and illustrated a softer approach, with many Republicans even vowing to maintain those protections.
Even so, a lawsuit filed by 20 U.S. states seeks to invalidate the pre-existing condition protections founded in the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit also intends to remove ACA provisions regarding community rating, or the setting of insurance premiums without adjusting for a person’s health status.
So what’s at stake here?
With an estimated 27% of adults under the age of 65 in the US with preexisting conditions, there are 50 million Americans at risk of losing partial or whole coverage if these protections are removed. On the other side, employers are at risk of having to counter increased medical cost with higher premiums that will most likely be passed on to their employees.
In addition to ACA revisions on preexisting conditions, Medicare and Medicaid also took center stage. Democratic hopefuls who vowed “Medicare for All” did not fare well this election, including Texas Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke. However, Medicaid expansion was passed in three states, apparently contributing to Democratic wins. This was not the case in Florida and Utah who voted down this ACA measure.
We believe healthcare will continue to stay top-of-mind as the House transitions majority leadership, and the Senate welcomes new leadership in 2019.
Stay tuned to MJ Insight for legislative updates throughout the year and always feel free to reach out if you have any questions.