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Democrats Make Significant Gains in 2018 Midterm Election

The American people have gone to the polls and chosen a divided government.  On November 6th, Democrats took back the majority in the House of Representatives giving them a check on the ability of Republicans and the White House to move federal legislation. What will this mean for the dental industry, and the issues DTA advocates on behalf of the trade? We are not likely to know for a while, but it is clear the American people are engaged. According to New York Times estimates, 114 million votes were cast in House races, up from the 83 million in the last midterm elections in 2014.            

There was an overwhelming blue wave that swept the House of Representatives, but that wave did not include the U.S. Senate, as Republicans held on to their majority and gained seats. The election reflects that the country remains politically divided and likely to remain that way into the 2020 elections.

The big question is whether the White House and the Congress will be able to govern. President Trump will need to work with Democrats to move legislation now, but major policy differences may make it difficult on big ticket items. The consistent truth is that it takes bipartisan effort to move most legislation. It remains to be seen whether we will see bipartisan efforts on a range of important policy areas. Neither party has a commanding control of either chamber and it may be hard for party leaders to hold their members together on key votes.  

As of now, 21 races in the House are still undecided. Democrats have won 220 seats and Republicans have won 194.  Democrats are likely to increase their majority in the House with these remaining races.  In the Senate, Republicans have won 52 seats and Democrats have won 44 seats with 4 races still undecided.

Democrats made gains in the states as well.  Currently, 22 Governors are Democrats and 26 are Republicans.  Democrats picked won Governor races in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin.

One significant loss for the dental industry is the defeat of Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) who had championed repeal of the medical device excise tax.

New Legislators & Trends in Medicaid Expansion

More than 100 women were projected to win seats in the House of Representatives, easily shattering the record. Overwhelmingly they were Democrats who helped the party take control of the chamber. Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. With votes still being counted Wednesday morning, 95 had already been declared winners.

Voters in three states approved ballot measures that will make more people eligible for Medicaid, marking an expansion of health coverage after years of opposition to Obamacare by Republican lawmakers. The ballot measures passed in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah. That brings to 37 the number of states that have decided to offer Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults, expanding the coverage rolls by some 84,000. Montana’s Medicaid expansion question is still outstanding. If voters reject it, the expanded Medicaid rolls will expire in July 2019.

Voters in Maine also unseated Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who had blocked Medicaid expansion approved by voters and the state legislature.

In the 116th Congress, Democrats will take leadership roles on key health care committees. New committee chairs promise to protect the Affordable Care Act and go after the Trump administration for its policies over its past two years in power.

  • Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) is expected to be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) is in line to chair the Health Subcommittee.
  • Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is expected to be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) is in line to chair the Health Subcommittee.
  • Since Republicans are holding on to the Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is in line to take over the Senate Finance Committee and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will likely stay on as the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.