5 healthcare policies more likely to pass with Democrats controlling Congress

Final results from Georgia's two run-off elections mean several healthcare policies have a better chance of congressional approval.

Democrat Raphael Warnock won a race against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and Democrat Jon Ossoff beat David Perdue, according to The Washington Post

Now, the Senate will be a 50-50 tie, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate, giving Democrats control of the Senate, House and White House.

Several health policies stand an easier chance of being enacted because of the Democratic majority. Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted five Jan. 5:

1. Ending lawsuit that aims to overturn the ACA 

2. Giving premium assistance for ACA marketplace plans

3. Aiding states with more incentives to expand Medicaid

4. Letting government negotiate drug prices 

5. Eliminating cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment

But many analysts said they believe large, structural changes to the country's healthcare systems are out of reach. President-elect Joe Biden has said he doesn't support "Medicare for All," but even his proposed public option would face a harder road to approval, according to The New York Times. The public option aims to give Americans a choice between a public plan and private insurance.

For most congressional legislation, procedural rules require 60 votes in the Senate. Because Democrats hold a slim majority, they could use a tactic called reconciliation to pass healthcare legislation. 

Reconciliation allows lawmakers to pass some bills with the bare majority of votes, according to The New York Times. But reconciliation bills have to follow a requirement called the "Byrd Rule," which effectively says the legislative provisions have to be budgetary. This will be a challenge for sweeping health reform, the Times said.

Read more about potential policy actions under a Biden administration here.

This article was updated Jan. 7 at 8:52 a.m. CST.

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