Good morning ... Whether you're a Republican upset about the House or a Democrat upset about, well, any number of other races — console yourself with my suffering: Kentucky lost to Duke last night in a staggering 118-84 romp. Whatever you lost last night, you didn't get blown out that badly.
Medicaid expansion was a bright spot for Democrats on an otherwise mixed election night: 3 states passed ballot initiatives to adopt the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion.
Democrats also won hard-fought gubernatorial races in Kansas and Wisconsin, putting expansion at least on the table in those 2 states — Kansas especially.
The other side: Democrats lost some enticing races with potentially big Medicaid stakes — namely, the Florida governor spot.
The bottom line: Getting all 3 ballot initiatives passed is nevertheless a big win for expansion advocates, and could end up covering more than 150,000 people, all together.
And don't forget about Maine. Democrat Janet Mills will take over for outgoing Gov. Paul LePage (who, in the most on-brand announcement I've ever seen, already announced he's moving to Florida).
P.S. California voters rejected a ballot initiative to cap dialysis firms' profits, 62% to 38%, vindicating the record-breaking sums that dialysis firms spent to defeat it.
Graphic: Axios Visuals
Honestly, although Democrats' takeover of the House is the biggest overall headline of the night, its health care implications are pretty modest.
The big picture: The next 2 years will test the strength of Republicans' alliance with the health care industry, and pharmaceutical companies in particular.
Repealing the ACA is all the way off the table, though it was already an impossibly steep climb even under unified Republican control.
Oversight will be one of Democrats' biggest overall priorities. I see 2 possibilities for heath care oversight that could stick:
Drug pricing could, theoretically, be a potential source of bipartisan agreement between Democrats and President Trump, especially now that Trump has endorsed some pretty liberal ideas, like using Europe as a pricing reference.
My thought bubble: A Democratic House may leave industry somewhat worse off on those ticky-tacky but big-for-industry priorities that are always floating around, looking for a vehicle.
So, did Democrats’ relentless health care messaging work? I think you can see whatever answer you want to see in these results.
The battle over pre-existing conditions was key to Democrats’ taking the House (and the source of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s unfortunately phrased shout-out: “Let’s hear it more for pre-existing medical conditions!”)
Medicare for All: At a minimum, “Medicare for All” did not help Democrats win last night.
What’s next: Judge Reed O’Connor should rule on Texas’ big ACA lawsuit any day now. Protections for pre-existing conditions are still on the chopping block and will soon be thrust right back into the political fray.
When CVS completes its buyout of Aetna, presumably by Thanksgiving, the company will have $75 billion of debt, CVS executives said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call yesterday.
Why it matters, via my colleague Bob Herman: CVS is essentially tripling its debt load from last year and will have more debt than 40 U.S. states, based on numbers from the Census Bureau.
Consumers are more likely to get medical care in retail settings like supermarkets or retail pharmacies if they're offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new PwC brief.
Details, via Axios' Caitlin Owens:
Why it matters: If consumers could use retail facilities more often for routine medical services — such as the way flu shots are distributed at pharmacies as an alternative to a trip to the doctor — that could end up taking out a lot of financial bloat.