Democrats Won a Mandate on Health Care. How Will They Use It?

Democrats Won a Mandate on Health Care. How Will They Use It?

“The best outcome for drug makers is divided government,” because it means there will probably be legislative gridlock for the next two years, said Rick Weissenstein, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, which tracks federal policy.

Trump administration officials and drug company executives can expect a steady stream of requests for documents and testimony from the Democrats in line to lead House committees.

The Democrats are eager to investigate the many ways in which they say the administration has sabotaged the Affordable Care Act. They also plan to investigate the work requirements that have been imposed on Medicaid beneficiaries in several states with encouragement from the Trump administration.

On the issue of drug prices, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who is poised to become the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has already asked numerous drug makers to explain how they set them. With other Democrats, he intends to seek detailed information to show how much drug companies spend on research, marketing, advertising and lobbying.

For their part, Trump administration officials said they did not expect any fundamental changes in health policy as a result of the elections.

Much of the president’s policy has been shaped and carried out by Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She tried to persuade governors and members of Congress to support legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act, including its expansion of Medicaid. She has also pushed for federal rules that allow the sale of more short-term health insurance plans, which do not have to cover pre-existing conditions or provide all the benefits required by the health law.

Aides said that Ms. Verma intended to stay on the job, but that the administration’s health policies would remain intact even if she left. Her top deputy, Paul Mango, an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, wrote last year that “Obamacare has been a disaster.”

The official recruited last month to run the national Medicaid program, Mary Mayhew, strenuously opposed the expansion of Medicaid when she was the commissioner of health and human services in Maine. Trump administration officials say they still see the expansion of Medicaid to cover able-bodied adults — approved this past week by voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah — as a costly departure from the original purpose of the program.

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