How do two former Washington insiders view the results of last week's election? Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, a Republican, offered their perspectives during a recent interview with Modern Healthcare editors Paul Barr and Matthew Weinstock at a Health Care Council of Chicago meeting hosted by Matter.
Modern Healthcare: Do you think the election results will spur further Medicaid expansion?
Tom Daschle: The exit polls indicated that a lot of people cited healthcare as one of their primary motivations for voting. I think the landscape continues to evolve, but this isn't new. Healthcare has had ups and downs. So it goes in cycles. I think the cycle is coming back and I think you're going to see the politics of health change again. I'm not inclined to think that it's going to change dramatically. This is an evolution rather than a revolution.
Mike Leavitt: Off-year elections are generally over-interpreted—on both sides. And they're always interpreted to have big national implications, and I'm not sure they always do.
To the degree that Virginia was tilted, and many people were speaking of healthcare as they left the polls, I think that's significant because Virginia is thought to be a swing state. Of all the things that occurred in the election, that may be the most interesting.
I believe Medicaid will continue to expand into other states. I think it will happen because there may be some red states that are looking for waivers and other accommodations from the federal government that they couldn't get under the former administration, and that they will use the flexibility that now exists at HHS to expand in ways that the federal government previously would not concede.