What Could the Upcoming Midterm Elections Mean for Physicians and Healthcare?

Leigh Page

Disclosures

October 09, 2018

In This Article

The Future: Gridlock or Compromises?

The national midterm elections on November 6—in which all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and full terms for 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the US Senate are up for grabs—could lead to a continuation of the Trump administration's healthcare policy, as some have wanted. Or it could throw Washington into deep gridlock, making it virtually impossible to get anything done.

Republicans currently control the White House and both houses of Congress. But if Democrats took over one house—more likely, the House of Representatives—the parties would have to work together if they want to resolve pressing healthcare issues.

Many agree that the healthcare system badly needs fixing. Some of the top issues are dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or developing a replacement; controlling the rising cost of pharmaceuticals; changing the Medicaid program; relieving physicians of unnecessary regulations; and moving toward value-based healthcare.

Could both parties work together on these issues? Many informed observers are mostly doubtful, including Robert Pearl, MD, former CEO of the Permanente Medical Group and author of several books on the US healthcare system.

Pearl notes that in private, politicians are less partisan than you might think. "When I visit one-on-one with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, I find them to be very open-minded," he says. "They're very different when they're out in public."

"In public, a lot of them will do anything to get control of Congress, even if it means compromising their own personal views," he says.

And yet Pearl believes there might be a chance that both sides can agree on a few key issues, such as controlling the cost of pharmaceuticals. "Congress could do something about high drug costs," he says. "They're a real stain on the American healthcare system."

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