Impact of Democratic gains? Not much

With yesterday's Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the possibility of a Senate win still in the air, what might the impact be on healthcare providers? Not much, at least in the short term, it seems. True, the Democrats have vowed to address the Medicare Part D "donut hole" issue and invest in medical research, including stem cell research. The party also offers a none-too-specific pledge to provide Americans with access to affordable health care. But no one seems to think the proposals have any teeth.

Some hospitals contributed dollars to Democratic efforts, hoping for the ouster of Senator Chuck Grassley from the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. The industry would be relieved if Grassley, who has spearheaded investigations into non-profit hospital operations, was no longer breathing down their necks. Otherwise, look for two more years of flourishes, rhetoric and little change--until both parties trot out vague proposals prior to the next presidential election in 2008.

For more background on these issues:
- read this blog entry at HospitalImpact
- review the Democratic National Committee's health policy statement