Modern Healthcare: What Tuesday’s elections mean for healthcare

The outcome of Tuesday’s elections could have profound implications for healthcare policy. Most significantly, the outcome of the fight for control of the Senate will shape the tenor and content of the healthcare debate in Washington in the coming months and whether Republicans can damage Obamacare.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to swing control of the Senate, and most political prognosticators believe their chances of succeeding have increased in the closing days of the election cycle. But the final partisan tally might not be known for weeks as runoff elections are a strong possibility in Louisiana and Georgia, where candidates must get at least 50% of the vote to avoid another contest.

And beyond the marquee tussle for control of the Senate, many other electoral fights across the country could have significant consequences for healthcare providers, insurers and patients. An unusually high number of tightly contested gubernatorial contests could alter the dynamics around Medicaid expansion in those states. And ballot measures in several states have healthcare officials worried about the ramifications if they are adopted.

Maine is the state most likely to move forward with expanding Medicaid to households with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty threshold if Democrat Mike Michaud prevails on Tuesday. But the outcome of the race remains impossible to predict.

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