The answer, of course, is both, but I’ll focus on states in this response. State election outcomes can ultimately impact federal government. On the state election side, redistricting and reapportionment for future Congressional seats can be impacted by outcome.
Also, States decide how federal money is spent from the Older Americans Act and other similar programs. So who administers state agencies (generally appointed by a Governor) becomes important.
One should also not overlook Attorney General races as well, with the growing trend of their filing suits against the federal government.
At least three areas in Medicaid could be impacted by the outcome of a gubernatorial election. Waiver requests to the federal government originate out of a governor’s office. In the states that have yet to expand Medicaid, a gubernatorial race can determine if that policy remains or is changed. Also, any future decision about Medicaid, especially if it relates to block granting the program, plays into gubernatorial races.
From an advocacy standpoint, it is important to work for aging policy agenda-setting in state races for governor and legislature. In California, the We Stand With Seniors effort is an example—both the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor have signed this pledge.
Finally, more and more states are viewed as laboratories of good policy ideas, so who runs a state is important.
Bob Blancato is the President of Matz Blancato and Associates, the National Coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the Executive Director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. Bob has more than 20 years of service in the US Congressional and Executive branches, including senior staff of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging and an appointment by President Clinton to be Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. More recently, Bob serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of the American Society on Aging and on the National Board of AARP. He also serves on the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.