As everyone knows by now, U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term on Tuesday. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives will remain in the control of the Republican Party with a similar make-up of the last four years. Also, the Democrats will keep control of the U.S. Senate, gaining two seats to slightly cushion their advantage in the chamber. The short summary is that that governing system will be remarkably similar to how it has been the last few years.
So what does this mean for senior long-term care issues?
It is impossible to say with precision, because claims made by various actors in the system during an election are often different than the final policy results once various issues make their way through the give-and-take of American lawmaking. However, it is possible to make a few observations about how certian issues/ideas might play out in the coming years as a result of the President’s re-election.
The most high-profile issue is that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is likely to remain law. Governor Romney had suggested that repeal of this law would be attempted “on day one.” While it is unclear if he would have been successful in those efforts, with his defeat it is likely that Obamacare is here to stay. Though passed several years ago, the measure has yet to be rolled out in its entirety. And so it will be crucial to see if the legislation is fully implemented and works as hoped to improve healthcare access for all while expanding it to those currently not receiving care.
In addition, the Elder Justice Act will likely stay in place and be fulled expanded. This measure includes various proposals to ensure senior citizens are treated properly at all times, no matter what their living situation. The programs called for in the law have yet to be fully funded. While it is unclear if the President’s re-elecion will ensure the full funding, the prospects for it are much higher than if the election had gone the other way.
Similarly, some senior advocacy groups have suggested that options for at-home services might be given a boost as a result of the election. This is becase of the maintenace of programs like the Community First Choice Option and home-based care services provided under the Medicaid HCBS State Plan Option. These tools will likely remain open now, whereas they might not have if things had gone differently on Tuesday.
Overall, as attorneys working on elder care and estate planning, we also understand that very tough federal budget choices are likely on the horizon. No matter who won this week, the fact remains that our annual federal budgets have shown deficits for many years in a row–both candidates promised to end that. However, it is unclear what combination of spending cuts and revenue increases will be undertaken to right that annual deficit. In general, the President’s re-election means that there will probably be a better balance between cuts and revenue increases, as Governor Romney preferred more emphasis on cuts and less on revenue enhancements.
In any event, no matter what your political leanings, hopefully we all can work together in the coming years to craft real solutions to the challenges we face, including those affecting seniors and their family.
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