Open Enrollment and the Midterms: What to Look Out for Next Week

The sixth annual open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act kicks off today – and in less than a week, voters will go to the polls, where the future of health policy will be decided. Now more than ever, health care – and how it’s delivered – is top of mind for Americans.

Polling from the West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago found that 88 percent of Americans say that reducing drug prices should be a priority for Congressional candidates, and issues like protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, affordable health insurance coverage, and Medicaid expansion, have also been identified as policy priorities for legislators.

At Waxman Strategies, we are committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable, high quality health care – and through our work with organizations like the Gary & Mary West Health Foundation, Laura & John Arnold Foundation and National Associate of Community Health Centers, we’re deeply engaged in the critical discussions around health policy that will be front of mind for the new Congress.

As we enter open enrollment, let’s take a look at where health care stands now – and the work that’s still left to be done.

Until December 15th, consumers will be able to choose from a wide range of low-cost health plans that provide access to essential health services. The ACA has played a critical role in expanding coverage to millions of Americans and has guaranteed critical protections for those with pre-existing conditions and complicated health conditions. These measures have been popular – with voters from both parties understanding the need to ensure access to health coverage for all Americans. In fact, the ACA has risen in popularity in recent years, despite efforts to roll back many of its protections.  Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 54 percent of Americans now view the 2010 health law favorably.

While the ACA has been successful in significantly expanding access to health care, like any significantly complicated law, it must evolve and be improved over time – making it even more effective at maintaining its core mission of reducing the number of uninsured while providing quality, affordable healthcare to consumers.

As we look ahead at the upcoming election, it’s clear that voters are highly invested in how policy and policymakers will handle access issues, along with rising premiums and high drug costs. And critical to serving these voters is keeping the ACA intact, while working to improve it where we can. Losing this law would threaten the lives of millions of Americans, a price too high to pay in this or any election.

One thing is certain – regardless of how the votes tally after next Tuesday, ensuring coverage and protection for our safety net and vulnerable populations, and lowering the price of prescription drugs for our seniors and hardworking individuals is going to be a top priority for the next Congress.

To learn more about which health issues to be on the lookout for after the midterms, check out the Waxman Strategies 2018 Health Election Outlook here.