Caroline: Welcome to Avalere’s first in aseries of podcasts focused on the 2016 elections. I’m Caroline Pearson, senior vice president of policy and strategy at Avalere. Over the next several months, Avalere will be concentrated on the role of healthcare in the 2016 elections, the implications of the debate for the future of policy, and the potential outlook for the healthcare industry in 2017 beyond. I’m joined here today by Elizabeth Carpenter, who leads our policy practice at Avalere. Elizabeth, election season is always an exciting time. What role do you see healthcare playing in the 2016 elections?
Elizabeth: Thank you, Caroline. It is great to be here today. While healthcare will not be the top issue of the 2016 elections, it will certainly be a focus of candidates. Recent polls show that healthcare is second among Democrats and fourth among Republicans as the most important issue for the campaign. In particular, we have seen voters express concern about affordability, particularly affordability surrounding prescription medications – and I know you plan to talk about the role of the drug pricing debate in this year’s election later in the series.
Caroline: So, you mentioned drug pricing. What types of future policy are likely to be shaped by the election this year?
Elizabeth:This is a great question and one that has a few angles to consider. Obviously, the majority of the focus this year is on the presidency, and rightly so. But you also have elections in Congress. In particular, control of the Senate is up for grabs. Looking ahead, at a federal level, the election is likely to shape future action on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, entitlement reform, tax reform, which has implications for the Cadillac tax and employer tax exclusion, and potential action on drug prices. So that is the focus on the federal level, but it is important not to forget the states.
Caroline: That is great. Talk about the states. We spend a lot of time at Avalere tracking state policy. And on many of the policy issues important to our listeners, the action is really happening outside the beltway and in the states.
Elizabeth: You are 100 percent correct, Caroline. Governors, legislatures, and insurance commissioners (who sometimes are elected independently or appointed by governors), have a significant role to play in issues such as Medicaid expansion decisions, insurance market regulations and patient protections, and some of the action we are seeing on drug price transparency in the states. So, we should not ignore state and local elections.
Caroline: Ok, so we are almost out of time today. Do you have any final words for our listeners as we kick of the series?
Elizabeth: I guess I’ll close today by noting that action, particularly in Washington, happens quickly following an election. The joke in DC is that a new president has about 18 months to get anything done – after that they are focused on the mid-term elections and then they are running for president again. So, it is never too soon to start preparing for a post-election environment.
Caroline: Great, thanks, Elizabeth. Between now and November, Avalere will continue to bring election content, including these podcasts, to the public dialogue. In the meantime, visit our website to check out materials comparing Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump on healthcare as well as our analysis of the Clinton “Medicare for More Proposal,” which could make 13 million Americans eligible to purchase Medicare coverage. Thanks for listening.