Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

By now, you’ve heard all the cliches. The party of the President normally loses seats in Congress in the mid-term elections in the first term. The public is increasingly discontent, which increases the likelihood they will take out their frustrations on the President’s party. The list of reasons goes on, and it’s probably correct. The conventional wisdom normally proves reliable.

Surprises, however, are a fact of life that are never predicted, which is why we call them surprises. For instance, in the late 1980s no one predicted that the Soviet Union would be a memory within a few years. Likewise, almost no one in 1992 imagined that Republicans would dominate the 1994 elections and gain unified control of Congress for the first time in more than 40 years.

That said, in voting, the late swing is often the most important. While candidate preference goes back and forth during the early part of the campaign, the late swing in public opinion is generally the most durable. Voters have settled on their preferred candidate and are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise before election day. The late swing appears to favor Republicans in Congress, with the House of Representatives most likely to come under GOP control and a reasonable chance in the Senate races, with a few of the toss-up matches beginning to break toward Republican candidates.

President Biden Will Continue to Preside

No matter how well Congressional Republicans do in the November elections, they will be hard pressed to find a way to legislate over the next two years with a Democratic President. If the Republicans control the House of Representatives, their objective moves to improving their chances to win it all in 2024, when the President will be on the ballot.

The Republicans will certainly convene oversight hearings on Administration policies with which they disagree and on individuals that may prove embarrassing to the Biden reelection effort (e.g., the President’s son Hunter). Meanwhile, expect the House to pass legislation that reflects the party’s policy preferences even if it dies in the Senate.

Any Healthcare Issues on the Table?

When the public was polled about the most pressing issues facing the country in 2022, healthcare costs came in second place, not too far behind the economy. The public would dearly love Congress and the President to focus on reducing the cost of healthcare but have little confidence they will succeed.

The long-term care industry is only beginning to recover from the COVID-19 black eye it sustained, and nursing homes continue to struggle with staffing issues even as the censuses continue a slow recovery. Pharmacy, on the other hand, did distinguish itself in stepping up to help immunize the country and distribute new treatments to move us toward recovery. Regardless of the partisan makeup of the next Congress, we may be able to leverage that success in expanding our responsibilities.

Don’t Forget the States

The federal election is only half the story. With 46 states electing state legislators and 36 electing governors, the partisan landscape is likely to see some changes. The new year will usher in fresh faces eager to make a name for themselves. They need to get to know us, and getting started with advocacy at the state level is easy.

The Need to Be Ready

The picture may seem a bit gloomy, but remember that Congress passes a significant number of bills each year. Those include bills to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling and a handful of others that Congress feels it must pass, whether because of emergencies or because the public, regardless of party, demands it.

The issues we’re most interested in don’t fall into that category, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress in setting the stage. Pharmacies and pharmacy owners need to make it a priority to get in front of members of Congress, state representatives, and local officials to tell our story. January marks the beginning of a new Congress and the beginning of terms of office for newly elected public officials across the country. It’s our opportunity to discover new champions and create a positive environment for our industry to succeed.

Let’s think about this on election night. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a surprise or two.

X Factors for the 2022 Elections

  • Do you know who represents you in Congress, your state legislature, and your city or township? If not, find out.
  • If they are running for re-election, did they win? If not, who replaced them?
  • Make it your objective to meet with them or their staff and tell them your story. As one legislator said a few years ago, “I would have no way to know anything about your job and how it is affected by the local, state, or federal government unless you explain it to me.”

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Written by: Paul Baldwin, Baldwin Health Policy Group
Paul’s pharmaceutical industry experience in public and government affairs led to becoming Executive Director of the Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, helping lead the industry through the Medicare Modernization Act and creation of the prescription drug benefit. Paul was VP of Public Affairs for Omnicare before founding Baldwin Health Policy Group.

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