Monday, July 24, 2017

Health Care Profoundly Affected By 2016 Elections

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As you are undoubtedly aware, the recent elections had, and will continue to have, profound effects on many aspects of health care. We are readying our strategies for the fast-approaching 2017 legislative sessions—which, in part, means re-evaluating the health-related landscape in light of recent election results.

Medical marijuana was significantly expanded, with Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota allowing or expanding use. On a related note, recreational marijuana ballot measures were widely passed by those states who considered them, with measures passing in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Arizona rejected their own recreational marijuana ballot measure, while Maine’s passing referendum may be subject to a recount due to passing by an incredibly slim margin.

California voters rejected an initiative to cap drug prices. The law would have allowed state agencies to pay for drugs at the price negotiated by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department. The VA’s discounts range from 24% to 40%.

Voters in Colorado approved the Medical Aid in Dying initiative, allowing terminally ill patients to end their own lives, making their state the sixth in the nation to allow physician-assisted suicide. The measure was approved by an overwhelming percentage of voters.

And finally, we are expecting significant changes in health care during President-elect Donald Trump’s new administration. With a new host of leadership being considered for important offices, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services, only time will reveal the impact this will have on our policy priorities. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is one of the top priorities of President-elect Donald Trump. While making no promises, Trump has said that he’ll consider keeping two popular provisions, a requirement that insurers cover people with existing conditions and another that lets children stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. There is great complexity to these changes, and we will be on the edge of our seats, as are you, in seeing how this unfolds in 2017 and beyond.

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About Amy Goldstein, Director of Policy and Advocacy, SPPAN