Lupin 2023

Election results create uncertainty for Rx

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The Republican tidal wave that swept through the nation’s political landscape earlier this month altered the balance of power in Washington and many state capitols and, in the process, created a greater degree of uncertainty for retail pharmacy operators.

Propelled by voters dissatisfied with bleak economic conditions, Republicans gained 60 seats in the House of Representatives, more than enough to give them control of that body in the next Congress, as well as picked up six seats in the Senate, where Democrats will retain a majority.

The GOP made additional inroads at the state level, taking back 10 governorships from Democrats and strengthening their hand in legislatures across the country.

Many Republicans are adamantly opposed to the health care reform bill enacted earlier this year and have vowed to modify or repeal it. The position of John Boehner (R., Ohio), who is expected to become the next Speaker of the House, is typical. At a post-election press conference, he said the measure will result in the loss of jobs, wreck the health care system and leave the country bankrupt.

“That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill,” Boehner noted, “and replace it with commonsense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”

Chances that the Affordable Care Act will be overturned are almost nil as long as the Democrats control the Senate and President Obama is in a position to veto legislation. House Republicans, however, will attempt to use the budget process to block funding needed to make health care reform a reality.

The ensuing battle will further cloud the already murky waters surrounding implementation, an area where decisions made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will have a profound impact on what health care reform means to patients, providers and payers. At a minimum, the concerns of Republicans will keep debate about the legislation — over which public opinion remains deeply divided — in the spotlight.

Retail pharmacy will have to remain vigilant in order to protect the favorable measures included in the Affordable Care Act and be ready for a long fight, since the trajectory of health care reform may not ultimately be decided until after the 2012 election cycle.


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