Where post-election health care may be headed

After the election, changes are likely on the docket for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), telehealth, and the COVID-19 response, according to health policy expert Benjamin Sommers of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Sommers, Huntley Quelch Professor of Health Care Economics, discussed how the health care landscape may shift in the coming months, depending on the election’s outcome, in a wide-ranging Q&A published October 27, 2020 in the Harvard Gazette.

The ACA could change in several ways, Sommers said. If the Democrats retake the White House and Congress, for example, they would likely put forward some proposals to enhance and expand the reach of the ACA, with a public option and more generous subsidies, he said. A Democratic White House could also use executive actions to affect the way the ACA is implemented, Sommers said.

It’s also possible that the Supreme Court, soon slated to hear a challenge to the ACA, could strike the law down. If that happens, whichever party has power would have to come up with another plan, and would likely try to figure out how to sustain one of the law’s most popular features—protecting people with preexisting conditions—which both Democrats and Republicans favor. “If you want private insurance to cover people, regardless of preexisting conditions, you have to put in place the regulations that require them to do that and the money that makes it affordable for people to buy that insurance,” Sommers said.

Read the Harvard Gazette article: A fraught season for health care