Both Republicans and Democrats are likely to use the next session of Congress to position their parties for 2020. For Democrats, this will likely mean a continued focus on protecting key portions of the Affordable Care Act, lowering healthcare costs, and potentially expanding access to public programs.
Meanwhile, Republicans will consider whether they will renew efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act or turn to more incremental reforms. Democratic control of the House will likely heighten focus on drug prices and potentially increase the likelihood that biopharmaceutical companies could be at risk to offset or “pay-for” government spending. Importantly, the administration’s aggressive agenda on drug pricing will continue, regardless of the leadership change in the House.
executive director, Coalition for Healthcare Communications
Divisiveness was the real winner in the midterms, and there will be few areas in which the two parties will collaborate productively in the year ahead. With power divided, each party has a stronger incentive to stake out positions for 2020 than to find bipartisan solutions now.
One issue where President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans, and House Democrats may find common ground is in concern over high drug prices — leading to congressional investigations, HHS-CMS rulemaking, and legislation.
Since there is little appetite to address the real drivers of high health costs, there is substantial risk that ill-conceived but superficially popular measures will move forward.
deputy VP, public affairs, PhRMA
We can’t speculate on what Congress may or may not do, but we remain focused on advancing market-based reforms that address misaligned incentives in the biopharmaceutical supply chain and lower out-of-pocket costs.
After negotiations, medicine prices increased just 1.9% last year, below the rate of inflation, and yet patients’ out-of-pocket costs continue to skyrocket.
Ensuring patients benefit from negotiated rebates at the pharmacy, promoting value-based healthcare, and advancing pro-innovation trade agreements are some market-based reforms that would help make medicines more affordable.
senior director, APCO Worldwide
There is an old maxim, “campaigning is easy, governing is hard.” In health care, we’re going to get to see if House Democrats can convert campaigning to governing. The key — can they cooperate with Republicans and vice versa? It remains to be seen.
Here is what to pay attention to in the coming months:
- Investigations: Democrats have a long list including the ACA, drug pricing, and Medicaid. Will Democrats take it too far?
- Drug Pricing: Each side has a stake and a political rationale for cooperating
- Medicare for All: Will this become Democrats “Repeal and Replace?”