Last night, Americans voted to re-elect President Barack Obama. The Democratic and Republican parties maintained control of the Senate and House respectively, with Democrats gaining two seats in the Senate. This means federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act will go forward, with January 1, 2014 as the date when expanded coverage will begin.
Californians voted for a temporary tax increase to protect public education through Proposition 30, which assures a base of funding for K-12 and public higher education. These results implicitly acknowledge that California has already cut public programs quite severely; the failure of Proposition 30 would have had devastating impacts on education and on the California General Fund that could have impaired the state’s implementation of the ACA. Proposition 30 also protects the 2011 realignment of mental health and other services to the counties.
Exit polling showed that the nation’s voters remain sharply split on ObamaCare, with California voters among those most supportive of its implementation. Since the ACA gives states options as to whether to expand Medicaid and operate the Exchange, it is likely that the pace of national implementation will vary widely depending on the views of state policy makers and their electorates.
We hope that California’s implementation will proceed quickly and even more importantly, effectively. California’s successes and its missteps are likely to be scrutinized under a public spotlight, and widely reported by both supporters and detractors.
Together, these national and state results mean that ACA implementation can proceed in California, with the strong support of state voters. However, state implementation needs to be impeccable to not only retain voter support within the state, but also garner support in other parts of the country where the ACA may be viewed less favorably. It is a unique opportunity to implement this landmark legislation in a manner that best improves the health, health outcomes, economic growth and productivity of the Golden State and all its citizens.
Thank you to everyone who voted, who campaigned on behalf of candidates, and who worked tirelessly to educate voters on important ballot initiatives. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done, but yesterday’s results will go a long way towards expanding affordable and accessible health care to all Californians.