Federal Election Implications
By Deirdre Savage
Massachusetts Congressional Delegation
Despite a few late twists and rumored tightening of races for Congressional seats in Massachusetts, all incumbent Massachusetts Democrats won with significant margins. In addition, in the only open seat (Delahunt - 10th District), former Norfolk Count District Attorney Bill Keating won over Jeff Perry (Republican). The 10th District is the South Shore-based district that includes both Quincy and Hingham.
National Results - A Split 112th Congress
The House, as expected, shifted control to Republicans as the new majority party. As of this afternoon, the Republicans gained approximately 60 seats in the House, bringing totals to 240 Republicans and 184 Democrats, with 11 seats undecided. Congressman John Boehner (OH) is expected to replace Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. As the majority shifts, Democrats will lose their chairmanships of Committees, including eight of the ten Massachusetts delegation members that served as Chairs of full Committees or Subcommittees in the House.
While the Senate did not shift control to Republicans, the Democratic margin tightened as Republicans gained six seats. The current margin in the Senate is 52 Democrats (including two Independents) and 46 Republicans, with two seats (Alaska and Washington) undecided. Despite some notable losses (including President Obama's former Senate seat), Senator Harry Reid was reelected and will remain Majority Leader. Remarkably, Republicans did not lose one Senate seat that they currently control.
This recent election marked the second largest one-day loss for the president's party in modern times; the last occuring in 1938, when voters expressed their impatience with the Depression and FDR's New Deal by voting out 71 Democrats. The overwhelming issue for voters was the economy, with eight in ten voters identifying it as a primary issue in the election. While health care ranked a distant second, it was not a determinant in the outcome of a given election, as half of the Democrats that voted against national health care reform still lost.
Other Races Across the Country
Republicans won back seven seats from Democratic governors in Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Seven other races have not yet been called. In addition, Republicans also captured 19 state legislative bodies from Democrats. When factored together, during a "redistricting" year (where Congressional districts are reapportioned to reflect population shifts), Republicans will control the entire redistricting process in several key battleground states that will be losing congressional representation, making Democrats more vulnerable in the future.
National Health Care Reform Ballot Measures
Ballot measures in Oklahoma and Arizona that specifically targeted the law's individual mandate were approved. In Oklahoma, an opt-out ballot initiative was approved by a 2-to-1 margin. Proposition 106 in Arizona gained 55 percent of the vote. Colorado voters narrowly defeated a similar measure.
Impact on National Health Care Reform
While a Republican majority in the House almost guarantees at least one vote on a full repeal of national health care reform, given the split Congress and the expected inability of Republicans to garner enough votes to overcome parliamentary procedures in the Senate, such a bill is unlikely to reach the President's desk for a veto. It is far more likely that Republicans will seek to bring negative attention to the Administration and/or try to dismantle portions of national health care reform by:
In order to defend against such challenges, it is expected that the rhetoric will continue to be charged. Democrats will likely highlight specific provisions of national health care reform that enjoy support (e.g., eliminating preexisting conditions exclusions) and try to demonstrate Republican ties to the health insurance industry.
The shift in power at the state level may actually have a more far-reaching impact on national health care reform than that at the federal level. As implementation of significant aspects of national health care reform is in the hands of states (e.g., Exchange creation, rate review process, power to seek waivers), governors and state legislatures hold a significant card in slowing the pace of implementation or full-scale rejection.
This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your legal counsel regarding your specific situation.
Please note that this content is only intended to describe national health care reform requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It does not address Massachusetts law requirements or the potential impact of Massachusetts law on federal PPACA requirements.
For purposes of PPACA implementation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts assumes the plan year is the policy year, unless an account notifies us otherwise.