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GOP Gains - Impact Key Health Care Policy Issues

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 Capitalizing on voter discontent, Republicans claimed control of the House of Representatives picking up 60 seats with a few right leaning races still to be decided. In the Senate the Republicans gained six seats outright. The pending Alaska race will not impact the GOP pick-up number, but Sen. Murkowski and Republican Candidate Joe Miller have very different views, making this an important race to keep an eye on. Republicans converted Senate seats in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin while Democrats held the States of California, West Virginia, Washington and Nevada. With their margin down to six seats Senate Democrats will have to contend with strong resistance in an already complicated chamber.

Perhaps the signature feature of this election, and the primaries before, is the dozens of moderates defeated by more conservative members. Many of the 112th Congress’ freshman will come into office riding pledges to slash the budget and repeal health care reform. On balance, the Democratic Party will be more liberal and the Republican Party will be more conservative. This may result in a Congress even further divided than the 111th. Contentious issues such as health care, taxes, and the deficit may stall, though with an increased Republican stake in demonstrable progress other issues, such as infrastructure, energy, and education could find some measure of success.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have pledged to put health care reform repeal front and center. Watchers can count on numerous hearings and oversight investigations of the overhaul when the new Congress is seated in January. House and Senate Republicans are also expected to try to withhold or limit funding that will be needed at the state level to implement health reform during the next appropriations cycle, as part of their effort to derail healthcare reform. Governorships across the country also saw a shift in party control. Key states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and New Mexico and Florida, will have Republican Governors. This likely will result in many governor-elects working to slow the health care reform implementation at the state level.

This election has further complicated what was already a rocky road for healthcare reform implementation. For proponents and detractors alike it will be extremely important to keep a close eye on developments. Expect to see vigorous congressional scrutiny of any rule making coming out of the agencies and plenty of administration officials heading to the Hill for hearings.

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