Washington, DC — Tomorrow, President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address. From day one, President Biden has put the health and well-being of Americans first. His administration immediately took steps to reverse the health care sabotage of the Trump administration by opening a special enrollment period, restoring critical funding in health care education and outreach, and making premiums more affordable than ever. As a result, 5.8 million people became newly insured, and millions more were able to save hundreds of dollars per month on their health care.
In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which put money into the pockets of families struggling to make ends meet, delivered robust funding for vaccine distribution, and helped safely reopen schools and the economy. Importantly, the American Rescue Plan included historic measures to drive down health care costs for millions of Americans. The law’s enhanced premium tax credits allowed more than three million Americans to find a plan for $10 or less per month. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:
“President Biden has fought tirelessly to end the pandemic and lower everyday costs for American families. When President Biden took office, only 1.6 million Americans were fully vaccinated, but today, more than 215 million Americans are fully vaccinated and 93 million are boosted. By listening to the experts and following the science, President Biden has always prioritized keeping families safe, creating jobs, and delivering relief to working families through common sense measures designed to help get America back on track.
“President Biden’s hard work is already paying off. A record number of Americans have signed up for coverage during the 2022 open enrollment period, giving millions of people peace of mind knowing they can afford the health care they need. It is clear that health care remains Democrats’ top priority as they work to lower premium costs, reduce drug prices, expand coverage, and improve health care for seniors. As we celebrate the accomplishments of the Biden administration, we can look forward to even brighter days ahead.”
Strengthening Health Care:
- More Than 30 Million Americans Now Have Health Coverage. Because of the combined force of the ACA and ARP, more than 30 million Americans now have health coverage through the Marketplace, Medicaid, or CHIP.
- More Than 14.5 Million People Have Coverage Through The Individual Market. In 2021, 14.5 million people signed up for health coverage through the ACA Marketplace. This is the highest number of Americans to ever enroll in a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and it is thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. 3.2 million Americans now have health coverage for less than $10 per month. Premium savings under the American Rescue Plan benefit all Americans, with families now saving an average of $2,400 a year on their health insurance premiums.
- No One Pays More Than 8.5 Percent Of Their Income For Health Coverage. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan builds on the ACA by ensuring enrollees have the option to purchase health care for less than 8.5 percent of their income. Previously, families earning just above 400 percent of the federal poverty level spent an average of 15 percent of their incomes on health insurance.
- More Affordable Coverage For ALL Americans. The American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded the eligibility for premium tax credits above 400 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $51,000 for a single person or $105,000 for a family of four.
- Zero Dollar Premiums For Low-Wage Workers. The American Rescue Plan eliminated premiums for Americans earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $19,000 for a single person and $39,000 for a family of four) who buy their coverage on the Marketplace and for those receiving unemployment insurance due to the pandemic.
- One In Four Americans Are Now Covered By Medicaid & CHIP. 12.5 million Americans were able to enroll in Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of enrollees to an all time high of 83.2 million. Reporting on the increase, The New York Times stated, “The spike in enrollment demonstrates Medicaid’s increasingly important role not just as a safety net, but also as a pillar of the American health system.” President Biden understands the critical roles Medicaid and CHIP play in American health care, which is why he has been a fierce advocate for the expansion and strengthening of Medicaid. Between February and November 2020, states that expanded their programs saw a 22 percent increase in Medicaid enrollment. Additional research has shown that Medicaid expansion states were better positioned to handle the economic fallout of the pandemic, with fewer residents becoming uninsured.
- Increased Medicaid Access. President Biden understands that health care is a right, not a privilege. In 2021, he kept his promise to roll back discriminatory Medicaid work requirements that create unnecessary obstacles for low-income individuals seeking access to affordable, quality health coverage. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have repeatedly stated that the vast majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are employed, ill, or disabled. The Biden Administration’s quick action put a permanent stop to these requirements in 12 states that received waivers under the previous administration.
- Improving Maternal Health Access. The American Rescue Plan created a pathway to coverage for pregnant Americans, allowing states to extend postpartum coverage under Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months following pregnancy. The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world, with 12 percent of maternal deaths occurring between six weeks and one year following delivery, after Medicaid coverage has ended. These numbers demonstrate the immense need for continuous health coverage for a minimum of one year following the birth of a child.
Leading Us Out Of The Pandemic, Giving Americans the Tools They Need:
- Shots in Arms. 76 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 65 percent are fully vaccinated. Over 93 million Americans have received a booster shot, providing the best protection against the omicron variant. The Biden Administration has made booster shots free and convenient at over 80,000 locations nationwide. Vaccines are our best tool to prevent severe sickness and death from all variants of Covid-19 and they have already prevented 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million additional Covid hospitalizations.
- New Access To Therapeutic Drugs And High Quality Masks. On January 4, President Biden announced that the federal government doubled the U.S.’ order for Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill, Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and severe illness significantly, another vital tool for reducing suffering and bringing the pandemic to an end. Twenty million doses of Paxlovid continue to be delivered across the country, with the first shipments sent to hospitals on Christmas Eve. In the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, the Biden administration distributed 400 million free, high-quality N95 masks at thousands of sites around the country.
- Increased Testing. Since taking office, the Biden administration has taken numerous steps to increase Americans’ access to vital Covid-19 testing, both at home and at testing sites around the country. There are more than 20,000 free testing sites around the country, including new federal sites deployed in response to the omicron variant surge. Four times as many rapid tests are available for Americans to use at home than were available last summer, and the administration’s wildly successful distribution of half-billion rapid tests this winter provided four free tests to every American household upon request, in addition to an earlier rule requiring insurance companies to reimburse members for their purchase of rapid tests.
- Schools Open. Thanks to the efforts of the Biden administration to provide safe and effective vaccines for students, and funding for masks and ventilation in schools, nearly 100 percent of American students were back in the classroom full time in December 2020, up from under three-quarters at the end of last school year.
- Workers Back To Work. The Biden administration has presided over the largest one year drop in the unemployment rate in U.S. history, and the creation of more than six million jobs, the most of any first year president in history. Despite the devastating Omicron surge, the addition of 467,000 jobs in January served as a strong signal that the economy continues to move in the right direction under President Biden. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the success of the vaccination program, workers are able to go back to work more safely and confidently.
The State Of Our Union Today And When President Biden Took Office:
Vaccinations. President Biden’s science based approach to the pandemic inspired confidence in America’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Due to his leadership, vaccinations prevented more than one million deaths and more than 10 million COVID hospitalizations by November of 2021.
Schools. Thanks to funds from the ARP, schools had the tools necessary to stay open and mitigate risk, even during the Omicron surge.
Jobs. The American economy is currently on track to recoup all of the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2022. Without the ARP, it would have taken the U.S. an additional four years to recover economically.