Nov. 10, 2016

What's Next? Batten Professors Weigh in on Election Results

Though Tuesday’s election answered one key question – who will become America’s president in January – Donald Trump’s surprise victory may have raised more questions than it answered as American voters, investors and leaders worldwide consider the ramifications of a Trump presidency.

While Hillary Clinton was generally regarded as the status quo candidate, Trump ran as an outsider with a background in business instead of politics, and his election brings more uncertainty about how his campaign platform will translate into policy.

Below, experts from the Batten School weigh in on a few key areas of uncertainty.


Health Care

Predictions of what will happen with the Affordable Care Act, colloquially referred to as “Obamacare,” are varied.

“It is easy to be critical of a policy that is there, but it is harder to be accountable about what you will replace it with,” said Carolyn Engelhard, director of the health policy program in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the School of Medicine.

Engelhard – also the associate director of the Center for Health Policy, a joint venture between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Public Health Sciences – believes there will be “dislocation and fear, especially for the poor and the unhealthy.”

She said there will probably be an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but while the executive and both legislative branches of the federal government are being held by a single party, the Republicans do not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

“They can’t repeal it 100 percent, but they can take away the funding, which would affect a lot of things such as the individual mandate subsidies and the Cadillac tax on health plans,” she said.

She said while polls indicate the entire program is unpopular with the public, specific elements of it are popular, such as children being able to remain in their parent’s health insurance policies until age 26 and the prohibition against denying insurance to people for pre-existing conditions.

“Politically, you can’t just take away health care for 20 million people,” Engelhard said. “This is a complicated business and you need to keep all the stakeholders happy. If it were easy to come up with a plan, you wouldn’t have had so many plans fail over the past 60 years.”

Engelhard predicted that there would be more uninsured, and that hospitals would have to take more indigent patients, leaving medical centers in a position of having to return to their state legislatures for additional funding.

Global Issues

Gerald Warburg, a professor in UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, emphasized that while millions of Americans were watching the votes come in as they awaited the results of the presidential election on Tuesday, so were people on the other sides of our borders and across the waters.   

“I think the rest of the world will be very closely watching,” Warburg said. “There is a strong consensus in our country amongst Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, inside the Beltway and around the country, that America has a strong leadership role and responsibility to play internationally.”

Warburg said the profound impact that the United States has around the world and the global issues that have been, and will continue to be, faced aren’t going to go away.

“These issues will not be pushed aside by one party winning part of our government,” he said. “The American system reflects our voters, and we are clearly a very divided country and we are very anxious about our future. But having lived through other elections that resulted in very similar narrow divisions, I think you can expect more continuity than change.”

David Leblang, director of UVA’s Global Policy Center, noted that some of the feelings surrounding the state of international relations following the results of the election stem from uncertainty.

“As a politician now with no track record, nobody knows what [Trump] is going to do. It’s difficult to place a bet on whether he is going to do X, Y, Z vis-a-vis Mexico or China,” he said. “There’s no history there, so everybody is making a guess, and those guesses lead to an awful lot of volatility because nobody really knows.”

In This Article

Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences and Public Policy
Email Address
Phone Number
Office Location/Room Number
Health System West Complex, Room 3897
Professor of Politics and Public Policy, Director of the Global Policy Center
Phone Number
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Garrett L028, Gibson S281
Professor of Practice of Public Policy
Email Address
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Twitter Username
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Garrett 102