Physician Practice Roundup—Midterm elections mean predictability for healthcare

U.S. Capitol at dusk
A split Congress means major overhauls to healthcare are off the table in the short term. (Pixabay/skeeze)

What the 2018 midterm elections mean for healthcare: predictability

Democrats may not have ridden a blue wave as big as the one they hoped for, but the party's reclamation of the House majority for the first time in eight years has a major implication for the healthcare industry: predictability.

In a report issued Wednesday, PwC said a split Congress means major overhauls—such as either a Republican-led "repeal and replace" bill or a Democratic-led move to single payer—are off the table in the short term. 

Benjamin Isgur, Health Research Institute leader at PwC, told FierceHealthcare providers are likely breathing a sigh of relief, because they’re already “knee deep” in investments in IT, value-based models and other delivery system reforms. (FierceHealthcare article)

Medical marijuana legalized in two more states

Voters in two more states, Utah and Missouri, legalized medical marijuana in Tuesday’s election. That makes 32 states that have legalized cannabis for medical reasons.

And a third state, Michigan, legalized recreational marijuana, making it the tenth state in the country to do so and the first in the Midwest.

Voters in North Dakota—where medical marijuana is legal—decided against legalization of recreational marijuana, rejecting an initiative that would have placed no limit on the amount of marijuana that people could possess or cultivate. (NPR article)

With corruption charges dropped, Senator Robert Menendez re-elected

Senator Robert Menendez overcame high unfavorability ratings that stemmed from a federal corruption trial and won re-election in New Jersey in the midterm election, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The trial, in which prosecutors accused Menendez of accepting bribes from a prominent Florida eye doctor in exchange for favorable treatment, ended in a hung jury in 2017. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice dismissed all the remaining charges against Menendez and his wealthy friend Salomon Melgen, M.D., who was a co-defendant in the corruption case.

While Menendez was off the hook, Melgen was previously convicted of 67 charges including healthcare fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying patient records and receiving a 17-year sentence last February in the $73 million Medicare fraud case. (Wall Street Journal article)

Big wins for Medicaid: Voters in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska approve expansion

The states that comprise the Great Plains and Mountain West are defined by values that perhaps arose from the rugged, inarable land itself: self-reliance, individualism and resourcefulness. Similar values ground the Republican Party’s current healthcare platform; leaders often speak of “choice,” “flexibility” and “independence.”

These values, one might argue, are what led most of those states to oppose Medicaid expansion when it first became an option in 2014. Indeed, most are red states, with just a few exceptions.

But those states are also defined by a strong sense of community and helping others. Perhaps that’s part of why four let voters decide on the expansion this year: Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, and Montana. The initiatives passed in all but Montana. (FierceHealthcare article)