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2012 Election Recap & Analysis

Posted on 11/14/2012 by NTOCC ® in Public Policy Updates
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As too-close-to call race results from last week’s election are finalized, the picture painted by the results of the hard-fought 2012 election remains status quo overall: President Obama will return to the White House for another four years, Republicans will retain control of the House and the Senate will stay in Democratic hands.

 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be a lightning rod among voters and Members of Congress, but the reelection of both President Obama and a Democrat-controlled Senate all but ensures that the ACA will be fully implemented over the next four years.  That said, there is a lot for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the states to do between now and full implementation, and many opportunities for opponents of the ACA to weigh-in and make themselves heard.  At the federal level, we expect HHS to quickly release several long-awaited regulations, including the all-important Essential Health Benefits rule.  Key demonstration and pilot programs overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will mature and move forward.  However, given the tight timeframe for releasing so many highly-anticipated regulations, there may be delays in publishing several of these rules.  In fact, just last week HHS pushed back the deadline for states to submit plans to set up state-based health insurance exchanges to December 14th from the previously announced date of November 16th. You can find more information on the new deadline here, and additional information on the exchanges here.

In Congress, expect House Republicans to look for ways to scale back the law through aggressive oversight, defunding of key programs, and repealing unpopular reforms such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) for Medicare provider payments and the medical device tax. The majority of these efforts will be blocked by the Senate, but several of the most controversial provisions, including IPAB reform or repeal, could be targeted by both bodies.  

Thematically, we should see little turnover at the leadership level in either chamber and in either party, but lots of new faces on the key committees, particularly below the Chairman and Ranking Member levels. The House Energy & Commerce Committee could have as many as ten departures (six Republicans and four Democrats) post-election, but the committee will most likely retain its current Chairman, Cong. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member, Cong. Henry Waxman (D-CA).  On the Senate side, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will remain atop the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, but Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) is term-limited. We assume Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will take over as the top Republican there. Meanwhile, the Finance Committee will lose four Members to retirement, but the leadership of Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is likely to remain.