WASHINGTON — The personality looming over the 2018 midterms was President Donald Trump. The issue was health care, the top concern for voters as they decided how to cast their ballots.

This week’s election showed a nation increasingly — if belatedly — in step with former President Barack Obama’s approach to it.

Health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of voters, ahead of immigration and jobs and the economy, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 115,000 voters and about 22,000 nonvoters conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Those most concerned with health care supported Democratic candidates overwhelmingly, helping the party claim the House.

While Republicans’ hold on the Senate grew, putting Democrats in control of the lower chamber makes it even less likely that Trump will be able to undo Obama’s overhaul, which created subsidized coverage for some lower-income people, allowed states to expand Medicaid coverage for others with the federal government picking up most of the cost, and barred insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The law was one of Obama’s key legislative accomplishments, but it proved unpopular after Democrats passed it without a single Republican vote. A backlash propelled the GOP to take control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, significantly narrowing what Obama could accomplish.

But by last year, “Obamacare” was popular enough that a GOP-controlled Senate blocked an effort to scrap the overhaul.

That vote was a factor in the only Senate race where a Republican incumbent lost a re-election bid.

In Nevada, where the majority of voters said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of health care, Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen attacked incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller for supporting Trump’s effort to repeal the health care law.

“In time, changes will be made,” Mike Leavitt, health secretary under President George W. Bush, told the AP. “But repealing the statute is now not possible, even in the mind of the most ardent opponent.”

The health care impact of the election goes beyond Congress.

Voters in the Republican-dominated states of Idaho, Nebraska and Utah all passed ballot measures to expand Medicaid, which could bring coverage for an additional 363,000 low-income adults, adding to the 12 million already covered by the expansion elsewhere. Under the Affordable Care Act, federal taxpayers pick up most of the bill for the expansion. Starting in 2020, states will have to contribute 10 percent of the cost.

“For all the people who have been slipping through the cracks in our health care system in Utah, there is finally good news,” RyLee Curtis, campaign manager for Utah Decides Healthcare, said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “Help is on the way.”

Advocates, however, were disappointed by the outcome in Montana, where voters rejected a measure that would have made that state’s Medicaid expansion permanent with financing from a tobacco tax. The debate isn’t over, but it will move to the state legislature instead.

Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, which campaigned for the expansion measures, said states including …read more

Source:: Deseret News – World News

      

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Obama’s health insurance overhaul a winner in midterms

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