New Leadership in the Senate, and CA Voters Reject Prop 45 and 46

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber

November 7, 2014

Earlier this week we all woke up to a post-midterm political scene, and although the results haven’t lead to any grand predictions of sweeping regulatory or legislative health care reform in the coming state and congressional sessions, a few items are worth keeping an eye on.

First, there is the underlying alarm that Republican gains in the U.S. House and Senate increase the chances of a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2015. Using reconciliation, Senate Republicans can pass budget bills with a simple majority and ignore concerns from the other side of the aisle. However, Senate Republicans might need to seek a more compromised path, as too much focus on attempting to repeal the ACA could hurt the party's chances of a presidential victory in 2016. Instead, sources suggest that Republicans might try to pass measures targeting specific, unpopular parts of the law such as the medical device tax or portions of the employer mandate.

We are also hearing that the status of states' Medicaid expansion under the ACA is unlikely to change substantially given Republican victories in several gubernatorial elections. Nonetheless, yesterday HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Medicaid expansion would remain among her "top priorities" and urged newly elected governors to contact her if they are interested in expanding their states' Medicaid programs.

In California, we successfully stopped Propositions 45 and 46 - two separate ballot initiatives related to health insurance rate regulation and random drug testing of physicians. Trailing badly all night, Prop 45 was rejected by about 60 percent of voters, while Prop 46 was rejected by about 67 percent of voters.

Additionally, and of significant importance to health care advocates, Assemblyman Richard Pan, chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, won a seat in the state Senate, replacing Senator Darrell Steinberg. As such, the Assembly will need to find new leadership for their health care committee, and the Senate will have one more voice to consider as they discuss health care policy in the next legislative session.

We’ll be discussing these leadership and policy changes with Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas this morning, and look forward to new opportunities to support business-friendly health care reforms in the post-election political scene.



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