The 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday will have some big healthcare consequences.
Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate. That means Washington deadlock could prevent any big legislative changes. Also likely off the table is repeal of the Affordable Care Act or big cuts to Medicaid, which were narrowly defeated in the Senate last year.
Some of the biggest healthcare changes will likely come on the state level. Voters in at least two red states voted to make more low-income people eligible for their state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Democratic victories in governor races in states like Wisconsin and Kansas could lead those states to expand Medicaid, too.
In other states, voters rejected major changes to the way healthcare is paid for and administered, and passed new anti-abortion measures. Here’s a roundup of the results.
Two red states voted to expand Medicaid.
Residents of Idaho and Nebraska voted to to broaden access to their state Medicaid programs to more low-income people, in line with actions taken by 34 other states and Washington, DC under the Affordable Care Act.
A similar proposal in Utah was leading, with 54% of the vote, but ballots are still being counted in the state.
If voters in all three states choose to expand eligibility for Medicaid, roughly 325,000 more people could gain access to the health program, according to Avalere.
In Montana, voters rejected a proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products and make Medicaid expansion permanent, with 55% opposing it. That means the state’s Medicaid expansion is scheduled expire next year.
California rejected limits on payments to dialysis providers.
One of the biggest fights in healthcare went down in California.
Voters there rejected a proposition that would limit the amount of money dialysis providers make, after heavy spending by the industry. About 62% of voters opposed the measure.
Dialysis helps patients whose kidneys aren’t working properly filter impurities out of the blood (healthy kidneys would remove those impurities).
The process can be expensive — Medicare nationally spends $34 billion a year on the treatment.
Massachusetts defeated ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.
The idea was that by limiting the number of patients, it could keep nurses from getting overwhelmed and improve care.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed the measure. “Question 1 would set a safe maximum on the number of patients nurses can treat, so that patients can receive the quality care they deserve,” Sanders said in a statement.
Hospitals opposed the measure, arguing that the limit would lead to increased medical costs and less flexibility, in part because they’d need to hire more nurses.