After months of campaigning, four heated debates and many hours of voting, the people spoke: President Barack Obama was re-elected to another four years in office with 332 electoral votes and just over 50 percent of the popular vote.
ADVANCE spoke to healthcare analysts and followed up with five healthcare workers to find out how they reacted to the election outcome and where the healthcare industry will go from here.
The hope President Obama's supporters felt in 2008 remains, though cautiously. For those who voted for Mitt Romney, major concern lies in the nation's healthcare, economy, taxes, and national defense.
The majority of healthcare workers who responded to an ADVANCE Election 2012 survey reported in October planned to vote for Romney and did not support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). With the promise of the act going forward, they may now be searching for guidance in a storm of insurance exchanges, electronic health records and Medicare reimbursement paperwork.
"We will move forward; however, the move will be slow," said nursing student Lorenzo Ortega. "There will be great sacrifices that each individual in society will have to endure. We have so many problems in the nation that there is no quick solution."
Oliver McGee, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation under the Clinton administration, expects Obama to jump across the aisle and build some consensus about his legacy over the next couple years.
"Congress will most likely not go back to work on a replacement or ramping up of any new steady and growing future healthcare reform legislation [until] well into its next session of a brand new Congress in 2014," McGee said.
That year marks the start of a new era: The PPACA will be fully enacted, showing the force of the 34 million newly insured Americans seeking care. Leighton Ku, PhD, professor of health policy and director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, said, "Now policy officials and the healthcare system know what to expect for the next few years - particularly the idea that there will be large health insurance expansions."
For some clinicians and healthcare students, the 2014 deadline is looming with worry. "Cost is the biggest concern that I have, especially when our nation is in such poor health," Ortega said. "There will be a restructuring of the system to focus on prevention and health maintenance, but too many Americans are past this point in their health status."
Bernice Small, PT, added that in legislation, there should be more accountability placed on the part of the patient. "There is no incentive for the population to get healthy, and almost all of the onus is on the provider. Reducing the payments to providers will result in worse care and worse outcomes over time," she said.
Physician assistant student Caroline Pilgrim expects the implementation of the PPACA to have long-lasting implications. "America will stop leading the way in medical technologies and pharmaceuticals because innovation will no longer be rewarded due to taxation and regulatory burdens," she said.
For supporters of President Obama, the announcement of his re-election called up not worry, but a sigh of relief. Glen McDaniel, MS, MBA, MLS, DLM, clinical laboratory scientist, healthcare consultant and frequent contributor to ADVANCE, said that laboratories can benefit hugely from the PPACA and the president's re-election.
"The volume and variety of tests that will be needed because of the increase in insured Americans will benefit labs," McDaniel said. "Also, properly used, the results of laboratory tests can contribute to public health through prevention, early detection and monitoring the efficacy of treatment. Patients will be the beneficiaries."
The PPACA also opens opportunities for those seeking employment. Even since the Great Recession began in 2007, 559,000 healthcare jobs were added to the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The PPACA will only continue to broaden the number of open positions, as the nation faces a shortage of primary care providers.
Kelly Wolfgang is assistant editor at ADVANCE. She can be reached at email@example.com.
How did you find out who won the election?
- "I watched coverage until they declared a winner. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that Wisconsin and all the key states voted for Obama. When it was announced that Obama won, I was relieved. I am not a staunch supporter of Obama, but Romney's ideas, ever-changing positions and lack of concrete solutions to our problems troubled me more." - Bernice Small, PT
- "I watched the coverage on election night. The state-by-state results didn't surprise me. Obama was able to win most of the more liberal states and the coastal regions. Romney won the states that were traditionally more conservative. I was able to see Obama's speech in real time, and it was unbelievable." - Lorenzo Ortega, nursing student
- "During Election Day, I listened to radio reports, and checked my Twitter feed. Ultimately, the night of, I stayed awake until 11:15 and saw Ohio had gone for Obama. I then slept, not sure if Obama had won. I checked Twitter at 5 a.m. to see Florida had been called for Obama, along with Virginia. I didn't fall back asleep." - Caroline Pilgrim, physician assistant student
- "I immediately settled down to track the returns and see how they stacked up against my own earlier predictions. I also channel-surfed to see the difference in commentary and to gauge who was calling states earliest and their rationale for doing so. As the initial results came in, Governor Romney took and kept an early lead and that made me nervous. I stayed up until pretty late to watch both Romney's concession speech and Obama's acceptance speech." - Glen McDaniel, MS, MBA, MLS,DLM
- "I watched coverage the night of the election, as I have done for every election and midterm election for years. I was surprised that Obama won all of the swing states. I expected to lose Florida and North Carolina, but either way, I knew the electoral math would favor Obama. I was expecting about 300 electoral votes for the president, but the count ended up being over 330. I watched until about 3 a.m." - Brent Holland, RRT-NPS