With Veterans Day upon us, I want to say thank you to all our military veterans – including military physicians, nurses, and hospital leaders and staff – for their service. Their sacrifice helps keep our democracy thriving and provides us with the ability to vote as we did this past Tuesday.
 
Now that Election 2018 is in the books, what do the results mean for hospitals and health systems? Let’s count it down.
 
First, health care was front and center in the minds of voters this year. Polling before Election Day showed that 71 percent of voters said health care was “very important” in their decision. Top concerns were affordability and rising out-of-pocket costs, and maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions.
 
Second, a divided government means progress on health issues will need to be bipartisan and will likely focus on issues where both sides can agree, like addressing the opioid epidemic as well as efforts to rein in drug pricing and improve infrastructure. While repealing the Affordable Care Act will be off the table in the Democratic-controlled House, we expect the Trump administration to continue to take regulatory and rulemaking actions that will reshape how the law is implemented.
 
Third, there will be 85 new members of Congress in 2019 – meaning more than 15 percent of Congress will be freshmen on Jan. 3. And that’s where we need you to play a role. We have to educate them on our issues and the important role hospitals and health systems play in their communities. You know your community best, and we are counting on you to be our partner and a resource to your federal legislators on your community’s needs and the challenges you face.
 
Fourth, the election brought good news on the state front, where more than 500,000 Americans may soon be able to access critical health coverage under Medicaid. Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah passed ballot measures to expand Medicaid, and Kansas and Maine elected governors who have shown support for Medicaid expansion.
 
Fifth, looking ahead to the 116th Congress, we have a number of challenges that could negatively affect our abilities to care for our patients through potential “pay-go” rules that require legislation to be paid for, either through tax hikes or spending cuts. We will remain vigilant in tracking these issues and working to prevent any cuts that would hurt hospitals, health systems, and our patients.
 
Long story short … a lot has changed in this election. As always, the AHA is here to make sure the voices of America’s hospitals and health systems are heard.