Voters returned President Obama to the White House, overcoming a resistance to his agenda by Congressional Republicans, an anemic economic recovery, and a divided nation. In his defeat of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the incumbent nearly swept the battleground states, carrying Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and as of 2 p.m. eastern holding a slim advantage in Florida.

The results of the 2012 elections appeared to retain a very similar balance of power among the White House, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives, with the overall balances in the Senate and House being preserved.

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Nov. 6, all the major broadcast networks called the presidential election for President Obama, after returns from the pivotal swing state of Ohio appeared to show a conclusive victory for the President there. As of 2 a.m., the major networks had declared 303 electoral votes for Obama, versus 203 for Romney, with Florida's 29 electoral votes still undetermined. Meanwhile, as of 2 a.m., the Senate appeared to end up with 52 Democrats, 44 Republicans, and 1 independent, representing a net change of a two-seat gain for the Democrats, with a few elections still not yet called; while the House appeared to conclude the evening with 209 republicans, 153 Democrats, and 0 independents, a net change of a one-seat gain for the Republicans. But, as MSNBC's Chuck Todd reported on Nov. 7 just after 9 a.m. eastern, about 20 House races remained unresolved, with NBC projecting a net gain for Democrats of eight House seats, though truly final results might not be known for some time.

President Obama and the members of Congress from both parties will next be faced with having to deal with a number of issues during the so-called lame duck session of Congress that will be held at the end of the year, as well as the specter of the looming “fiscal cliff,” with across-the-board cuts to the federal budget, including of course, the federal healthcare budget, facing the members of Congress at the beginning of next year.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the baseline scenario involved in the fiscal cliff is allowed to take effect in 2013, it would reduce federal spending by $103 billion and increase tax revenues by $399 billion through September 2013 (the end of FY2013). Among other thorny issues, “going over the cliff” would compel a 27-percent Medicare physician reimbursement cut on Jan. 1, 2013, when the current “doc fix,” which has prevented the imposition of long-delayed cuts under the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, would expire.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the cornerstone of healthcare reform. The outcome of the election indicates that any threats posed to the ACA by a change in the party in power are no longer in play, but the issue with the fiscal cliff looms large on the horizon.

The editorial teams of Healthcare Informatics and Long-Term Living, our sister-publications, contributed to this story.