ACA, hospitals win as health focus helps Dems flip House
- Democratic takeover of House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterm elections kills any lingering attempt by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That threat, and in particular potential loss of protection for pre-existing conditions, propelled many newcomers to run on the Democratic ticket, and some were successful.
- Other winners include healthcare providers such as HCA, LifePoint Health and Universal Health Services, given their footprints in three red states that expanded Medicaid.
- After Medicaid expansion passed in three states Medicaid managed care companies such as Centene, Molina, UnitedHealth and WellCare also come out on top.
Healthcare issues took center stage in the fight over Congress and they appeared to help Democrats most.
For some, running on the promise to protect pre-existing conditions was the antidote to President Donald Trump's appeal. But for others, deep in red territory, touting healthcare was not enough.
Still, Democrats' House win will prevent major legislative changes. Democrats will be able to swat down any attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, but it's unlikely Congress will stitch together repair efforts for the ACA, either, Height warns.
The debate over drug pricing is likely to dominate Congress next year, it being one issue where Trump and Democrats can come together.
With Democrats in control of House committees, Height analysts said, "we anticipate drug pricing hearings that highlight increasingly high drug prices and out-of-pocket costs and how the Administration’s proposals fall short of delivering enough savings for patients. But we do not expect legislation to upend the current drug pricing system."
The main healthcare issue that dominated airwaves prior to the election was the promise to keep pre-existing protections.
The protection was part of President Barack Obama's signature health law, and is one of the most popular provisions of the law. It's estimated that nearly 102 million Americans have a pre-existing illness.
The Trump administration has undermined protection for pre-existing conditions by allowing more short-term plans, which are exempt from ACA requirements, to be sold to consumers looking for pricing relief. Couple the expanded short-term plan availability with throwing out the ACA's individual mandate penalty and that sends otherwise healthy shoppers away from the ACA marketplace, leaving the risk pool with potentially sicker, more expensive consumers.
His administration, along with state attorneys general, also are fighting to overturn the law, including the protections for pre-existing conditions. Democrats went on the offensive this campaign cycle using the Texas lawsuit as a way to convince voters to oppose Republicans.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the Republican challenger to Claire McCaskill, the state's Democratic senator, was one of 18 attorneys general to join the lawsuit to overturn the ACA, a ruling that has yet to be handed down.
Hawley ultimately defeated McCaskill in Tuesday's election.
Yet, there were upsets in primarily red districts elsewhere, in which healthcare played a pivotal role.
Lauren Underwood, a 32-year-old black nurse, ousted Republican Randy Hultgren from his seat.
She ran almost exclusively on healthcare in a district that is 86% white, according to the Chicago Tribune, representing the far western suburbs of Chicago. Illinois' 14th Congressional District was once held by Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican speaker of the House.
Rosemarie Day, founder of Day Health Strategies, said it's no surprise so many women won. Many ran on healthcare and women "champion" the issue, she said.