Republicans gain Senate control; McConnell puts ACA provisions in crosshairs

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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Congress will try to dismantle some parts of the Affordable Care Act now that the Republican Party has the majority of seats in both chambers, prospective Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Wednesday.

The GOP held onto its majority in the House of Representatives and wrested Senate control from the Democrats in Tuesday's midterm election. The Republicans gained seven seats to secure a 52-44 edge in the Senate as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The New York Times. Some results still were undecided.

During his hard-fought race, McConnell said he is determined to take the Affordable Care Act apart “root and branch.” However, President Barack Obama is certain to veto any full repeal that hits his desk. McConnell indicated Congress will try an incremental approach.

The 30-hour work week could be one of the first provisions on the chopping block, McConnell told TIME magazine Wednesday. The rule states that employers have to provide full-time worker insurance benefits to employees who are on the clock for 30 hours a week, rather than the more conventional full-time threshold of 40 hours. Long-term care providers and other organizations that rely heavily on part-time workers have lobbied for this provision to change.

Despite the tough talk from McConnell and many of his Republican colleagues, some pundits believe the Republicans will find it challenging to take on the healthcare law that already has been largely implemented. For instance, McConnell himself promised constituents that Kentucky's popular insurance exchange will not be phased out.

Long-term care stakeholders also were watching the Illinois gubernatorial race with interest. Republican candidate Bruce Rauner is connected to a high-profile legal case involving charges of nursing home negligence and improper business dealings. Rauner won the race by a slim margin, and Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn conceded late Wednesday afternoon.

In Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won a seventh term. During the primary, a scandal erupted after an anti-Cochran blogger gained access to a continuing care retirement community and snapped photos of Cochran's wife, who is a resident.