WASHINGTON — There were a whole host of candidates and issues on the 2020 ballot beyond Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and many of those races will have dramatic implications for health and science policy in America.
Will Democrats keep or even grow their majority in the House? Can they take back enough seats to claim control in the Senate? Health care and science cropped up in several of the congressional races we’re watching, too, from a House campaign on Long Island to Senate contests in Kansas and North Carolina. Plus, voters in some states were also weighing in on issues like abortion access and marijuana legalization.
Throughout Tuesday night, STAT reporters in D.C., Boston, and beyond will keep track of the results that will have the biggest implications for health policy. Check back here for live updates.
Shalala, Clinton’s former health secretary, loses
In Florida’s 27th Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, the former health secretary during the Clinton administration, lost her seat amid a Republican surge in Miami and its suburbs.
Democrats didn’t take advantage of Shalala’s health policy expertise during her single term in Congress: She wasn’t assigned to any committees with health care jurisdiction, and she didn’t play much of a role in Democrats’ signature health policy initiatives, including H.R. 3, their aggressive drug pricing bill. Still, Shalala was seen as an elder statesperson on health care issues. She’ll be succeeded by her Republican challenger, the former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar.
The Senate gets another doctor
Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) defeated his Democratic opponent, Barbara Bollier, in a Senate race hyper-focused on health care. Bollier kept things surprisingly competitive in deep-red Kansas, but fell short despite a campaign focused on issues like Medicaid expansion, surprise billing, and Covid-19.
Marshall is a deeply conservative OB-GYN who becomes the Senate’s fourth Republican doctor, joining John Barasso (Wy.), Bill Cassidy (La.), and Rand Paul (Ky.). He made health care central to his own campaign, and has volunteered at Kansas hospitals helping to treat Covid-19 patients throughout the pandemic. He’s generated controversy, though, for past comments on Medicaid beneficiaries and for his advocacy for physician-owned hospitals. And on health policy, he was a bit of a 2020 anomaly: He campaigned on a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a position many Republicans now view as a liability.
From White House physician to congressman
Republican Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician, won a Texas panhandle congressional seat Tuesday to represent one of the most conservative districts in the country.
Jackson became White House physician under former President Obama, but rose to national prominence when he said President Trump “has incredible genes, I just assume” during a 2018 press briefing about the…