IN THE NEWS: Robust Start to President Biden’s Special Enrollment Period Shows Americans Need Health Care Coverage During Pandemic

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing more than 206,000 Americans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace during the first two weeks of the special enrollment period President Biden enacted allowing Americans to get covered during the pandemic. These numbers demonstrate people need and want affordable health insurance, especially in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. News reports show that Americans are turning to the affordable health insurance available to them because President Biden delivered on his promise and opened a special enrollment period under the ACA. 

CNN: Sign-Ups For Biden’s Obamacare Special Enrollment Period Nearly Triple. “More than 206,000 people signed up for Affordable Care Act policies on the federal exchange in the first two weeks of the special enrollment period ordered by President Joe Biden, federal data released Wednesday shows. Uninsured Americans who want to buy 2021 coverage on could start doing so on February 15, thanks to an executive order Biden signed in January.” [CNN, 3/3/21

  • CNN: The Biden Administration Is “Pouring $50 Million Into Marketing And Outreach To Let People Know About The Opportunity.” “Biden, however, reopened enrollment to give the uninsured another chance to select policies during the coronavirus pandemic, and his administration is pouring $50 million into marketing and outreach to let people know about the opportunity. CMS is also providing about $2.3 million to 30 navigator organizations to assist consumers with enrollment, the agency announced this week. Former President Donald Trump refused to launch a special enrollment period when the pandemic hit last year and slashed the Affordable Care Act’s marketing and navigator budgets throughout his term.” [CNN, 3/3/21

Washington Post: More Than 200,000 Americans Sign Up For ACA Health Plans During Special Enrollment Period. “More than 200,000 Americans signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans during the first two weeks of an extended enrollment period President Biden ordered to help more people find insurance amid the economic ripple effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Figures released Wednesday by federal health officials show the number of consumers who chose coverage through from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28 — 206,236 — was nearly three times higher than during the same period last year and roughly 3½ times greater than in 2019.” [Washington Post, 3/3/21

Associated Press: Biden Encouraged By Consumer Interest In ‘Obamacare’ Offer. “In a solid start, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage the first two weeks after President Joe Biden reopened as part of his coronavirus response, the government said Wednesday. Early consumer interest in the three-month special enrollment period shows pent-up demand for health insurance a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people still unemployed or unable to work as many hours as before.” [Associated Press, 3/4/21

  • Larry Levitt, Executive Vice President For Health Policy At The Kaiser Family Foundation, Said “This Special Enrollment Period Could Make A Meaningful Dent In The Number Of People Uninsured.” “If the pace keeps up, ‘this special enrollment period could make a meaningful dent in the number of people uninsured,’ said Larry Levitt, who tracks health insurance for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘The enrollment numbers so far are stronger than I would have expected.'” [Associated Press, 3/4/21

Healthcare Finance: More Than 200,000 Take Advantage Of ACA Special Enrollment Period. “President Joe Biden, unlike his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, supports the Affordable Care that was signed into law when he was vice president to President Barack Obama. During his campaign, Biden promised to strengthen the ACA and to offer a public health insurance option.” [Healthcare FInance, 3/3/21

The Hill: Over 200K Sign Up For ACA Plans During Biden Special Enrollment Period. “Americans want health insurance. More than 200,000 people signed up for health coverage on federal ObamaCare exchanges in the first two weeks of a special pandemic enrollment period, according to federal statistics released Wednesday…According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the number of signups from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28 was nearly three times higher than during the same period last year, when only 76,000 people signed up.” [The Hill, 3/3/21

USA Today: Obamacare Sign-Ups Increase During Special Enrollment Period For COVID-19. “More than 206,000 Americans signed up for health insurance through the federally run in the first two weeks of the three-month special enrollment period created by President Joe Biden, the administration announced Wednesday. That compares with about 76,000 who enrolled during the same period last year, when people could only pick a plan if they had a special circumstance, such as a job loss.” [USA Today, 3/3/21

Senate Finance Committee Advances Becerra’s Historic Nomination

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate Finance Committee voted to advance the nomination of President Biden’s highly qualified pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. Becerra has decades of experience and was instrumental in the passage of the Affordable Care Act when he served in the House. As California’s attorney general, Becerra also led the charge to protect Americans’ health care against constant, baseless Republican attacks. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Xavier Becerra has proven he is uniquely qualified to serve as HHS Secretary. Becerra was an architect of the ACA, and he has been a staunch defender of the health care law as California’s attorney general. As the first Latino selected for this role, Becerra’s nomination is historic — especially at a time when our country is battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. President Biden needs his health care team in place as soon as possible, and Becerra is ready to hit the ground running on day one to get the pandemic under control, build on the ACA, and protect the health of Americans. The Senate should vote to confirm Becerra immediately.” 

Special Enrollment Period Numbers Show Americans Want and Need Affordable Insurance As They Battle the Pandemic

More Than 206,000 People Got Covered in First Two Weeks

Washington, DC — Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing more than 206,000 Americans signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace during the first two weeks of the special enrollment period President Biden enacted after taking office. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“President Biden’s decision to open the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for business is making a huge difference for hundreds of thousands of Americans. People need affordable health insurance, especially in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs and their health insurance. These numbers show that Americans need and want the affordable health insurance they can now get because President Biden delivered on his promise and opened a special enrollment period under the ACA. Democrats are about to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes the most significant expansion of health care in a decade. The ARP will make Marketplace insurance even more affordable by reducing premiums for over 10 million Americans, yet Republicans would rather play political games than help their own constituents. It’s disgraceful.”

The Reviews Are In: Overwhelmingly Popular American Rescue Plan Contains the Most Significant Health Care Reforms in a Decade

Health Care Provisions in the American Rescue Plan Will Lower Costs and Expand Coverage for Millions

New polling from Public Policy Polling on behalf of Protect Our Care shows that the American Rescue Plan has wide bipartisan support from the American people, even though every member of the House GOP voted against it. As Protect Our Care outlined earlier this week, Republicans are trying to make it more likely for people to get infected with the virus, and less likely to get health care if they do. Much like when Republicans voted to repeal health care in 2017, this vote could haunt them in the months, years, and elections to come. 

Alongside direct checks, money for vaccines, and other critical provisions, this bill includes the most significant reforms to health care in the United States in a decade. This legislation will lower premiums for people purchasing coverage through the ACA marketplaces and expand access to financial assistance for more middle-class families. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan includes robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. The health provisions in the American Rescue Plan will lower costs and expand coverage for millions at a time when access to health care is paramount.

Here’s what the headlines are saying about this expansion:

NBC News: Obamacare Would Get a Big (and Quiet) Overhaul in the COVID Relief Bill. “The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on Saturday would make one of the biggest changes to the Affordable Care Act in over a decade, and it could set the stage for a broader overhaul of the health care program — but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard much about it. ” [NBC News, 3/2/21]

CNBC: The $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Would Make Health Insurance More Affordable for Millions. “The $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package that’s expected to clear the House of Representatives on Friday includes several provisions that aim to make health care more affordable for households. They include: increasing premium subsidies (technically tax credits) through the federal marketplace and state exchanges for 2021 and 2022, expanding who qualifies for them and forgiving amounts due by taxpayers who received too much in subsidies in 2020 (and minimizing that issue for 2021).” [CNBC, 2/26/21

Vox: The Covid-19 Relief Bill Is Also an Obamacare Expansion Bill. “The Covid-19 relief package proposed by President Joe Biden and being considered by Democrats in Congress could expand health care coverage to millions of people, the most significant step in the last 10 years toward patching up some of the holes in the Affordable Care Act.” [Vox, 2/17/21

USA Today: Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes an Expansion of Obamacare. Here’s How It Would Work.“That potential boost in insurance help for millions of people would be the first significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, since its 2010 passage. The Senate this week is taking up the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and Democrats hope it could be sent to Biden’s desk for his signature as early as next week.” [USA Today, 3/2/21

Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Subsidies Likely to Increase Under Congressional Plan. “The expansion of federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act health plans, stretching to reach people who are in the middle class or unemployed, is woven into a proposal the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to approve by the end of this week. The proposal also would raise ACA insurance subsidies for consumers already eligible for that help. The ideas have been adopted in the past year by the Democratic-led House but had no chance of becoming reality until the Senate and the White House shifted last month into Democratic hands.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

New York Times: At Last, Democrats Get Chance to Engineer Obamacare 2.0. “But Republicans united against the law and, for the next decade, blocked nearly all efforts to buttress it or to make the kinds of technical corrections that are common in the years after a major piece of legislation. Now the Biden administration and a Democratic Congress hope to engineer the first major repair job and expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its passage. They plan to refashion regulations and spend billions through the stimulus bill to make Obamacare simpler, more generous and closer to what many of its architects wanted in the first place.” [New York Times, 2/27/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Democrats Are Using Their Coronavirus Relief Package to Try Expanding Health Coverage.  “Legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee offers the dozen states that haven’t expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare a fresh new incentive to do so. Under the proposal released late last night, the federal government would cover an extra 5 percent of costs for all of their Medicaid enrollees – not just the expansion population – if states agreed to expand the program. The extra contributions would last two years.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21]

New York Times: Broad Coalition of Health Industry Groups Calls for Obamacare Expansion. “The coalition is composed of eight powerful industry groups, including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It released a detailed set of proposals on Wednesday morning, including an increase in the federal subsidies available to help people afford coverage and a three-year re-establishment of the generous match in federal funding to states to entice more of them to expand their Medicaid programs. The coalition also urged the government to spend more money on enrolling people in plans offered by the insurance markets established under the law, efforts that were slashed by the previous administration.” [New York Times, 2/10/21

Politico: Democrats Push Temporary Obamacare Expansion in Covid Bill. “Pieces of the Covid-19 relief package House Democrats released Monday night include the first major expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies in more than a decade — a key plank of President Joe Biden’s health care agenda that they hope to pass in the coming weeks. Democrats are hoping that the beefed up subsidies, combined with Biden’s recent executive order to reopen the ACA’s markets and advertise heavily to entice people to enroll, will make a major dent in the ranks of uninsured Americans that have grown during the pandemic and ensuing economic recession.” [Politico, 2/8/21

The Hill: House Dems’ COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes 2-Year Boost to ObamaCare Subsidies. “House Democrats’ coronavirus relief legislation released Monday would increase the Affordable Care Act’s financial assistance for two years, providing greater help for enrollees’ to afford their premiums…Increasing ObamaCare’s financial assistance to make premiums more affordable has been a major Democratic goal for years, viewed as an improvement to the original ACA, but has been blocked by Republicans who oppose spending more money on a health care law they oppose.” [The Hill, 2/8/21

Axios: Democrats Eye Big ACA Changes in COVID Relief Bill. “Democrats’ coronavirus relief proposal includes major changes to the Affordable Care Act, aiming to make health insurance more affordable for the millions of people who have lost their employer-based coverage during the pandemic.” [Axios, 2/10/21

New York Times: One Sentence in Biden Stimulus Plan Reveals His Health Care Approach. “Now, control of the White House and a slim majority in Congress mean the first real prospect of significantly strengthening Obamacare since it became law in 2010. President-elect Biden’s inclusion of policies to shore up the health law in his first major legislative package has raised those hopes further.” [New York Times, 1/16/21]

Biden Keeps Health Care Promises, Announces Additional Funding to Boost ACA Special Enrollment Period

Washington, DC — Today, as first reported in Axios, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an additional $2.3 million in funding for Navigators that will help people enroll in coverage during the current special enrollment period that runs through May 15, 2021. This is in addition to the $50 million in outreach and education funding announced last month. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“President Biden is keeping his health care promises. Today’s announcement is another example of President Biden delivering on his commitment to increase coverage by funding the necessary outreach, education, and enrollment efforts to make sure people know how to get covered. Since taking office, President Biden has opened a special enrollment period, removed barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, and proposed the American Rescue Plan, which includes the most significant reforms to health care in over a decade — to reduce cost, expand coverage, and improve care. After just a few weeks in office, President Biden is enacting policies that add up to the largest improvement in health care in ten years.”

COVERAGE: Praise for HHS Nominee Xavier Becerra

This week, the Senate HELP and Finance committees held confirmation hearings for Biden’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra. Coverage shows Becerra left no doubt that he is a historic, experienced, well qualified nominee to lead HHS. Becerra has decades of experience and was an architect of the Affordable Care Act when he served in the House. Becerra also led the charge to protect Americans’ health care against constant, baseless Republican attacks as California’s attorney general. Becerra is ready to lead HHS on day one, and he will work with the Biden administration to build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act by lowering health care costs, including prescription drugs, expanding coverage for all Americans, and working to get the pandemic under control.  

Key Stories

Yahoo Finance: Why Biden Chose California’s Attorney General To Be Health And Human Services Secretary. “Becerra served in Congress for 12 terms and was a senior member of the health subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee. Upon being elected California’s attorney general in 2017, he became a key defender of the ACA with his office frequently filing lawsuits (over 100) against the Trump administration, most notably the case of Texas v. California, which challenges the constitutionality of Obamacare.” [Yahoo Finance, 2/25/21

  • Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Said Becerra “Has Been A Leader On Everything From Expanded Insurance Coverage Access To High-Quality Health Care.” “’He has been a leader on everything from expanded insurance coverage access to high-quality health care,’ Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary from 2009 to 2014, told Yahoo Finance. ‘He is one of the foremost experts I would say in the country on the Affordable Care Act, both in its design features and then defending the law in court. But he’s also done lots of important work for children and families and immigrant children, which was one of the areas of great concern when he served in Congress.’” [Yahoo Finance, 2/25/21
  • Larry Levitt, Executive Vice President For Health Care Policy At The Kaiser Family Foundation, Said “It Would Be Hard To Find Anyone In the Country Who Has Been So All-In On Preserving And Expanding The ACA.” “Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, agreed with the assessment that Becerra’s strength lies in his expertise related to Obamacare. ‘It would be hard to find anyone in the country who has been so all-in on preserving and expanding the ACA,’ Levitt told Yahoo Finance. ‘The setup as attorney general was the chief legal defender of efforts to overturn the ACA and the courts. So he’s well-steeped in all of the intricacies of the law, and it comes from a state that has been one of the most proactive in implementing the ACA from the start. So I think he’s certainly a good choice to reinvigorate the Affordable Care Act.’” [Yahoo Finance, 2/25/21

The Nation (Column): Why Xavier Becerra Is A Smart Pick To Run HHS. “But it was Becerra’s dogged efforts to protect the Affordable Care Act—and to maintain California’s ability to bring millions of previously uninsured residents under its umbrella—that pushed him to the fore when Biden was deciding whom to nominate as his HHS secretary. At a time when conservative states, led by Texas, along with the federal government were urging the US Supreme Court to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional, California—which had used the law and its own insurance exchange to reduce the percentage of its population that was uninsured from upwards of 17 percent to roughly 7 percent—marshaled an alliance of states to aggressively defend the landmark legislation.” [The Nation, 2/26/21

Additional Coverage Highlights Becerra’s Health Care Experience 

CNN: “One Of Becerra’s Highest-Profile Health Care Roles Recently Has Been Chief Defender Of The Affordable Care Act In Court.” “One of Becerra’s highest-profile health care roles recently has been chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court. He has also battled the health care industry to keep costs down for consumers. In 2018, he filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, a system of 24 hospitals and more than 12,000 doctors in Northern California, for using anti-competitive practices to consolidate market power, resulting in higher health care prices. The attorney general secured a $575 million settlement that requires Sutter to change some of its practices.” [CNN, 2/23/21

Los Angeles Times: “Fixing Disparate Access To Health Care Was A Signature Issue During [Becerra’s] Two Dozen Years In The House.” “Becerra represented Los Angeles for 24 years in the House and was a senior member of the committee that sets healthcare policy. He was among the small group of lawmakers who helped write the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Fixing disparate access to healthcare was a signature issue during his two dozen years in the House. Abortion rights and child advocacy groups have lined up in support of Becerra, as has the American Medical Assn.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/23/21

Associated Press: “As A Congressman, [Becerra] Played A Behind-The-Scenes Role Steering President Barack Obama’s Health Care Law Through Democratic Divisions In The House.” “Becerra, 63, represented Hispanic neighborhoods of Los Angeles in the U.S. House for more than 20 years before becoming his state’s chief law enforcement officer, succeeding Vice President Kamala Harris after she won election to the Senate. His politics are liberal but his style is low-key and oriented toward problem solving. As a congressman he played a behind-the-scenes role steering President Barack Obama’s health care law through Democratic divisions in the House.”  [Associated Press, 2/23/21

Washington Post: “Running The Nation’s Largest State Justice Department Since 2017, [Becerra] Has Led A Coalition Of Democratic Attorneys General Defending The ACA…” “However, Becerra worked on major health-care legislation, including the ACA, during his long tenure in the House. Running the nation’s largest state justice department since 2017, he has led a coalition of Democratic attorneys general defending the ACA from an attempt, in a case now before the Supreme Court, to invalidate the entire health law. He would be the first Latino HHS secretary.” [Associated Press, 2/23/21

NEW REPORT: The American Rescue Plan Will Reduce Racial Disparities in Health Care

Read the full report here.

Washington, DC — As part of Black History Month, Protect Our Care is releasing a new report showing expanding the Affordable Care Act will help Black communities recover from the pandemic and address longstanding racial disparities in health care. The report comes as the House is poised to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes desperately needed pandemic relief and builds on the Affordable Care Act with historic provisions to lower health care costs, expand coverage, and incentivize holdout states to expand Medicaid. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“This report shows just how critical the American Rescue Plan is in working to eliminate racial inequities. Black people face systemic barriers to care and are overrepresented in the jobs that are on the front lines of battling the virus Black Americans are more likely to get sick and 1.4 times more likely to die from the virus. In addition to taking bold action to end the pandemic,  restart our economy and get working families back on their feet, the American Rescue Plan includes critical health care provisions to expand coverage and lower costs while addressing stark racial disparities in health care that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important to pass the American Rescue Plan.”

Republicans Endanger Americans (And Their Own Political Futures) By Opposing President Biden’s Overwhelmingly Popular COVID Relief Plan

Washington, DC — Today, reporting shows Republican leaders are trying to prevent all their members from supporting President Biden’s overwhelmingly popular American Rescue Plan and endangering the health and safety of Americans in the process. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Republicans are going to learn again, just as they did in 2020 when they ignored the severity of the pandemic and in 2018 after trying to repeal American health care, that defying the will of a large majority of the American people is political suicide. Republicans want to make it more likely you get infected with the virus and less likely you can get health care if you do. Why? Because they’d rather appease the radicals and extremists in the base of their party instead of following the will of the majority of the American people. Americans know that this rescue plan creates a surge in vaccines, delivers relief checks, will help schools reopen and make health care more affordable and accessible for people in red states and blue states so they want it passed now.

“But hey, if Republicans are intent on committing political suicide, who are we to stop them?”

New polling continues to highlight broad, bipartisan support for President Biden’s pandemic response and American Rescue Plan:

  • New Polling From Gallup Has Found That 67 Percent Of Americans, Including One In Three Republicans, Support President Biden’s Handling Of The Pandemic. “Several weeks into his first term in office, 67% of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the coronavirus… Biden’s current approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus includes 95% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 34% of Republicans.” [Gallup, 2/22/21]
  • According To Recent Polling By The New York Times, Seven In 10 Americans Support President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than 7 in 10 Americans now back Mr. Biden’s aid package, according to new polling from the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. The overall support for the bill is even larger than the substantial majority of voters who said in January that they favored an end-of-year economic aid bill signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.” [New York Times, 2/19/21]

These new polls join the growing body of evidence that voters strongly support Biden’s response and want Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan:

  • A CBS Poll Found That A Large, Bipartisan Majority Of Americans Support Congressional Passage Of A New Stimulus Bill To Help Those Impacted By The Pandemic. “A very large and bipartisan majority of Americans would support congressional passage of a new stimulus bill to help those impacted by the pandemic… Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, as well as Americans of all income levels would approve of a COVID relief package.” [CBS, 2/10/21]

[CBS, 2/10/21]

  • Meanwhile, The CBS Poll Found That “Most Americans” Say Their Family’s Finances Have Been Impacted By The Pandemic — Highlighting The Need For More Relief. “Most Americans say their family’s finances have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in some way, including one in four Americans who say it has had a major impact. Lower-income Americans have been disproportionately affected: 35% of those with incomes under $50,000 say the coronavirus outbreak has left a major financial impact.” [CBS, 2/10/21]
  • Polling From Navigator Research Found That More Than Seven In Ten Americans Support Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.” “More than seven in ten support Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan,’ and each provision of it earns support from at least three in five Americans.” [Navigator, 2/4/21]
  • The Navigator Poll Also Found That Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan — Like Stimulus Checks — Have Support Across Demographic Groups, Including Republicans. According to the Navigator poll, 78 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans support new stimulus checks. Meanwhile, Republicans broadly support other key provisions: 57 percent support funding for vaccines and testing, 65 percent support paid family and sick leave, 64 percent support helping with health insurance premiums, 66 percent support small business grants, 53 percent support increasing the child tax credit, and 59 percent support rental assistance.
  • Hart Research Found That, Across Party Lines, Nearly Three Quarters Of Americans Favor Biden’s Rescue Plan And Want Congress To Pass It. “With support across party lines, large majorities favor President Biden’s COVID rescue plan and want Congress to pass it. After seeing the main provisions 74% favor the plan, including 46% who strongly favor it.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]

    • Hart Research Found That Half Of Republicans Support The Relief Package. “There is broad, bipartisan support in the country for the Biden COVID package: 98% among Democrats; 72% among Independents; 50% among Republicans; 46% of Trump voters support it, even though it is explicitly identified with Biden.” [Twitter, Geoff Garin, 1/28/21; polling for Protect Our Care]
  • Quinnipiac University Polling Found That Nearly 8 In 10 Americans Support Sending $1,400 Stimulus Checks Directly To Americans. “Nearly 8 in 10 Americans are in favor of $1,400 stimulus payments to Americans with 78 percent supporting and 18 percent opposing.” [Quinnipiac University Poll, 2/3/21]
  • Quinnipiac Also Found That Most Americans — 61 Percent — Support Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour.  “Respondents also favor Biden’s call for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage by a 61% to 36% margin, according to the [Quinnipiac] survey. [CNBC, 2/3/21]
  • According To Data For Progress, Nearly 70 Percent Of Americans, Including 80 Percent Of Democrats, 70 Percent Of Independents, And 55 Percent Of Republicans, Want To Pass More Relief As Soon As Possible.  “The majority of voters (69 percent) prefer to pass more relief as soon as possible to support small businesses, schools and Americans who are struggling, rather than wait and see what aid may be needed. Notably, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of self-identified Democratic voters, 70 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Republicans want relief as soon as possible.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • 68 Percent Of Americans — Including 67 Percent Of Independents And 55 Percent Of Republicans — Are Prioritizing Support For The Economic Recovery, Rather Than Being Concerned WIth The National Debt. “We find that the majority of voters (68 percent) support prioritizing as much support as possible for our future economic recovery, rather than being concerned with the national debt. Again, we find bipartisan support: 80 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 55 percent of Republicans want as much recovery as possible now instead of prioritizing a bill that is less costly.” [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]
  • Voters Overwhelmingly Support The Key Provisions In The American Rescue Plan. “We tested voter support on the different areas of economic relief that President Biden’s plan proposes. This includes: additional $1400 stimulus checks, extending and expanding unemployment benefits, grants and loans for small businesses, extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures and providing utility aid to struggling families, expanding Child Income Tax Credits and Earned Income Tax Credits, increasing the minimum wage to $15, and a range of funding for vaccine distribution, to schools, and to state, local and territorial governments. Overwhelmingly voters support all of these key provisions, with extraordinarily high levels of support for immediate steps to increase our coronavirus response such as support for small businesses and funding to state, local and territorial governments to prevent layoffs of frontline essential workers and distribute the vaccine.“  [Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]

[Data for Progress/Invest in America, 2/21]

  • More Than Twice As Many Americans Support Key Elements Of Biden’s Agenda Than Oppose Them — The Most Popular Policies Being Those At The Center Of Biden’s Pandemic Proposal.  “When asked about the 20 policies that define President Biden’s agenda, more Americans support than oppose all 20 of them, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. The margins are decisive. The majority of Biden’s proposals garner at least twice as much support as opposition. Nearly half are favored by more than 60 percent of Americans… Of all 20 policies covered by the poll, the two most popular were the ones at the center of Biden’s current COVID proposal: $2,000 relief checks (74 percent favor vs. 13 percent oppose) and increased federal funding for vaccination (69 percent favor vs. 17 percent oppose). A full 58 percent of Americans also support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, another key element of Biden’s COVID-19 rescue package.” [Yahoo News/YouGov, 2/1/21]
  • Meanwhile, Eight In Ten Americans Cite Strengthening The Economy And Fighting The Pandemic As Top Priorities For The President To Address. “Currently, about eight-in-ten Americans say strengthening the nation’s economy (80%) and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak (78%) should be top priorities for the president and Congress to address this year. Two-thirds (67%) rate improving the job situation as a top priority.” [Pew Research, 1/28/21]

Roundup: More Medical Organizations Support Xavier Becerra’s Nomination As HHS Secretary

Support for Xavier Becerra’s nomination as Health and Human Services Secretary continues to roll in from the medical community. In addition to groups previously highlighted by POC, additional health care organizations have thrown their support behind Becerra, President Biden’s pick to lead HHS, ahead of his nomination hearings in the Senate HELP and Finance Committees this week. Becerra’s decades of health care experience and commitment to fighting for affordable health care for all have earned him the support of the medical community and make him an ideal pick to lead Americans through this pandemic. 

Alliance for Retired Americans: “Mr. Becerra has also been an active and effective advocate for lowering drug prices. Seniors proportionately spend more than other age groups on prescription drugs. His work has positively affected the economic and health security of our members. He and a bipartisan group of state Attorneys General have sued to hold drug corporations responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic. Mr. Becerra was also instrumental in the passage of legislation in California to stop pay-for-delay kickbacks that keep many drug prices artificially high and a leader in the battle to uphold the Affordable Care Act and protect the health care coverage of millions of patients.” (Full statement)

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry: “Mr. Becerra has a strong track record and a depth of experience in formulating and implementing policies and programs to address the crisis of opioid addiction… As Attorney General, Mr. Becerra has also promoted regulations to protect patient data while also ensuring the data can be used appropriately to protect against the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.” (Full statement)

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Mr. Becerra has long been a champion of ensuring all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care. As a member of Congress, Representative Becerra helped to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. As Attorney General of California, he defended the ACA against legal challenges in the case of Texas v. United States.” (Full statement)

America’s Essential Hospitals:Becerra has spent his career defending key programs of importance to essential hospitals and their communities, including Medicare and Medicaid. Most recently, in his role as attorney general of California, Becerra defended the 340B Drug Pricing Program and championed important protections for immigrant communities.” (Full statement)

American Kidney Fund: “HHS is one of the largest and most important federal agencies – especially now, during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic – and Mr. Becerra’s experience as both a legislator and an executive give him the needed expertise to lead during this crucial time. People with kidney disease need a strong leader at HHS now more than ever.” (Full statement)

American Nurses Association: As California Attorney General, Mr. Becerra has defended the Affordable Care Act and essential health benefits. He fought against hospital consolidation and short-term junk insurance plans which make health care more expensive for consumers. His experience running the Department of Justice in America’s largest state instills confidence that he is very capable of running one of the largest government agencies in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Full statement)

Association of American Medical Colleges: “Secretary-designate Becerra’s leadership experience – such as the efforts to protect patients’ access to health care and establish health equity initiatives that he led during his tenure as Attorney General of the State of California – will be an asset in this role. He also brings health policy expertise from his experience on the House Committee on Ways and Means where he championed affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for patients.” (Full statement)

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “As the Attorney General of California, Mr. Becerra has demonstrated leadership in protecting kids from tobacco. Recognizing that youth are particularly vulnerable to nicotine use and addiction, he worked to protect kids from e-cigarette marketing and tobacco imagery in streamed video content. He also supported California’s new law ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, which are a key driver of youth tobacco use.” (Full statement)

Campaign for Sustainable Prescription Drug Pricing: “While in Congress, then-Representative Becerra worked diligently to enact to make health care more affordable and later, as Attorney General of California, continued that work. As part of his determined efforts on behalf of consumers, Attorney General Becerra has taken important actions to thwart egregious anti-competitive activity by the pharmaceutical industry aimed at protecting monopolies and keeping prescription drug prices needlessly high and unaffordable for far too many U.S. patients and their families. (Full statement)

Cancer Support Community: “Throughout his career, Mr. Becerra has always put patients first, including those impacted by cancer. Mr. Becerra was a proud co-sponsor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and actively worked to pass this landmark legislation. As a member of Congress, he steadfastly fought to protect and preserve the ACA by voting at least nine times against efforts to repeal and replace the law. He also sponsored the E-Centives Act, which provided incentives for Medicaid providers to improve quality of care by implementing electronic health records.” (Full statement)

Casa De Esperanza: “Mr. Becerra is a deeply qualified and passionate leader with a depth and breadth of experience that spans three decades of working to address violence against women and support survivors, ensure access to healthcare, and protect Social Security and Medicare. In May of 2020, as California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, stating that “[t]here’s no place for violence against women anywhere.” (Full statement)

Center for Medicare Advocacy: “Mr. Becerra has been a champion of expanding access to health care, from his time in Congress to his most recent role as California’s Attorney General. During his twelve terms in Congress, including while serving on the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, Mr. Becerra worked to improve the Medicare program as well as health care access more broadly.” (Full statement)

Futures Without Violence: Xavier Becerra is a highly qualified and passionate leader with demonstrated depth and breadth of experience spanning three decades. As Attorney General of California, he joined with Attorneys General from across the country in 2018 and 2020 to advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. His defense of the Affordable Care Act has meant essential health care access and coverage for many previously uninsured people, including those experiencing sexual and domestic violence.” (Full statement)

Leading Age:We support the nomination of Secretary-Nominee Becerra to be the next HHS Secretary to advocate for and carry out the robust health care platform outlined by President Joe Biden. We have confidence that he has the health care expertise and experience managing large systems that are critical to successfully leading HHS and that he will work with Congress to take quick action…” (Full statement)

Mental Health America: “As a member of Congress, he sponsored and supported legislation that has proven essential on the journey to health equity for all our people, including those affected by mental illnesses. As the Attorney General of California, his efforts in support of enforcing mental health parity, for example, are well-known and critically important.” (Full statement)

National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Attorney General Becerra has been a true leader on mental health and addiction issues, tirelessly defending the ACA and working to enforce federal & state mental health parity laws. As California’s Attorney General he led efforts on the part of states to challenge measures taken by the previous Administration to undermine a series of patient protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under his leadership, California also stepped up enforcement and compliance with respect to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) ensuring more equitable coverage of mental illness treatment.” (Full statement)

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence: Xavier Becerra is a demonstrated leader who brings decades of health policy experience addressing violence against women and support services, ensuring access to healthcare, and protecting Social Security and Medicare. His long history of defending and protecting the Affordable Care Act has provided essential health care access and coverage for many previously uninsured people, including those experiencing sexual violence and trauma.” (Full statement)

National Association of Community Health Centers: Attorney General Becerra has a long-established relationship with California health centers and NACHC. As a former Member of Congress from Los Angeles, and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, he consistently sought feedback from local health center leadership through roundtable events and regular communications with the Los Angeles Community Clinic Consortium.” (Full statement)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “Becerra has a proven record of fighting for access to healthcare for all Americans. This includes leading the legal campaign to prevent the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled, thereby protecting millions of survivors’ access to healthcare.” (Full statement)

National Council on Aging: “While playing a leadership role in providing health coverage to millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans under the Affordable Care Act and championing improvements to women’s health, he also authored Medicare proposals focused on improving care for beneficiaries in need… NCOA had the privilege of working closely with then-Rep. Becerra and his staff on legislation he introduced in 2007 and 2009 to make health care more affordable for low-income Medicare beneficiaries whose fixed incomes made it difficult to afford rising health care costs.” (Full statement)

National Organization of Rare Disorders: Attorney General Becerra has spent a career in both Washington and California advancing policies that have improved access to affordable and comprehensive health care…We are confident that his experience will enable to him to effectively lead HHS and support the implementation of policies that can help address pressing health needs of the rare disease community.” (Full statement)

Hearings to Confirm Health Care Champion Xavier Becerra Begin

Senate HELP and Finance Committees Hold Hearings This Week

Washington, DC — Today, the Senate HELP Committee will begin confirmation hearings for President Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. Tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee will take up Becerra’s nomination. Becerra has decades of experience and is well qualified to lead HHS. In addition to being an architect of the Affordable Care Act when he served in the House, Becerra also led the charge to protect Americans’ health care against constant, baseless Republican attacks as California’s attorney general. In response to the hearings, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“Xavier Becerra is a strong advocate for health care and has decades of experience protecting and expanding health care access, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and fighting for health care equity. As HHS Secretary, he will work with President Biden to build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act and tackle the pandemic, which has caused catastrophic health and economic fallout for Americans. The Senate should move quickly to confirm Becerra. Needlessly delaying this confirmation process will put more lives at risk in the middle of a pandemic that has killed 500,000 Americans. President Biden has already taken bold action to combat the pandemic, but he cannot go it alone, and he needs to have a Senate-confirmed HHS Secretary to work to end the pandemic.”