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Administration

Roundup: Medical Community Supports Xavier Becerra’s Nomination As HHS Secretary

Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has strong support from the medical community. The top experts who know health care the best praise his willingness to work with medical experts, his trust in science, and his decades of experience advancing health policies to improve the lives of Americans. Becerra is deeply committed to ending the pandemic, addressing racial disparities in health care, and making health care more affordable. The support of these well respected health care groups show Becerra is a highly qualified nominee who knows what’s at stake and who will work to ensure a healthy future for all Americans.

American College of Clinical Pharmacy: “We urge swift confirmation of Attorney General Becerra as HHS Secretary… As communities across the country struggle to respond to the COVID pandemic, a comprehensive strategy to ensure a truly team-based, patient-centered approach to patient care, consistent with evolving integrated delivery models, must be prioritized.” (Full statement)

American College of Radiology: “Becerra is incredibly qualified for this position. During his time in Congress, former Rep. Becerra worked closely with the ACR to improve the American health care system and protect patient access to high quality imaging care.” (Full statement)

The American Hospital Association: “The AHA has worked with Becerra throughout his long career as a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, including as a member of the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee. He has been a champion for health care coverage and affordable health care, which the AHA has long supported. Throughout his time in public service, it is clear that Becerra has consistently made people across America and their health a priority.” (Full statement)

American Medical Association: “The American Medical Association strongly supports the nominations of Xavier Becerra to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Vivek Murthy, M.D., to be Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. While in Congress, then-Rep. Becerra worked closely with the AMA to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate. As Attorney General of California, he led a coalition of 17 states defending the ACA in the case of Texas v. United States – a case in which the AMA filed an amicus brief championing access to meaningful, affordable health care for all Americans.” (Full statement)

American Physical Therapy Association: “As a congressman, Attorney General Becerra was a staunch advocate for access to health care services. He helped lead a successful effort to eliminate arbitrary caps on seniors’ access to necessary outpatient physical therapy services and championed legislation to ultimately remedy this issue for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.” (Full statement)

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science: “As a Congressman, Attorney General Becerra was a staunch advocate for access to health care services. Clinical laboratory scientists have a critical health care role to play and we must ensure access to clinical laboratory services is unfettered especially during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” (Full statement)

American Society of Radiologic Technologists: “During his time in Congress, former Rep. Becerra was involved and instrumental (serving on the House Ways and Means Committee) on a wide array of health care issues and worked closely with the ASRT and the medical imaging community to improve the American health care system and ensure patient access to high quality imaging care.” (Full statement)

Association for Clinical Research Professionals: “President-Elect Biden made a wise choice in the selection of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the department at this time as the country continues to address the array of challenges the pandemic presents… Attorney General Becerra brings to the agency knowledge of the disparities in access to health services in the U.S. He is well positioned to address these disparities.” (Full statement)

Blue Shield of California: Blue Shield values Attorney General Becerra’s leadership and commitment to preserving access to affordable, comprehensive health care for millions of Californians. As Attorney General, he repeatedly defended key Affordable Care Act (ACA) protections and fought for lower drug prices.” (Full statement)

Dental Trade Alliance: “During his twelve terms in Congress, Attorney General Becerra spent much of his time working on health care issues impacting U.S. citizens as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.” (Full statement)

Federation of American Hospitals: “Secretary-designate Becerra is, first and foremost, a champion for patients. A seasoned public servant, his lifelong commitment and dedication to public health will help him confront the many challenges that face us, from achieving health equity to reducing the cost of prescription drugs to reinforcing access to care in rural and underserved communities. He is highly qualified, time-tested, and will be ready on day 1.” (Full statement)

Home Care Association of America: “As a Congressman, Xavier Becerra was a staunch advocate for access to health care services… Attorney General Becerra brings his experience as an administrator having run the California Department of Justice since 2017. In this position he addressed an array of health and other matters that prepare him well to handle the significant challenges of running an agency as large and diverse as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” (Full statement)

International Association of Forensic Nurses: “In addition to his experience on health care matters, Attorney General Becerra brings his experience as an administrator having run the California Department of Justice since 2017. In this position he addressed an array of health and other matters that prepare him well to handle the significant challenges of running an agency as large and diverse as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” (Full statement)

National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association: “During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Congressman Becerra demonstrated a thorough understanding of federal programs that support the aging and disability communities – most notably the Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid programs – and made significant and meaningful contributions to disability-related policies.” (Full statement) 

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives: “As both Ranking Member and as a member of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, Attorney General Becerra championed important pieces of legislation affecting the lives of millions of beneficiaries of Social Security Disability, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid. NOSSCR awarded then Congressman Becerra our ‘Award for Excellence in Social Security Disability Advocacy.’ Attorney General Becerra understands beneficiaries’ needs and the interaction between Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid health insurance, and an individual’s overall wellbeing.” (Full statement)

National Alliance of Safety Net Hospitals: We worked with Mr. Becerra when he was a member of Congress and served on the House Ways and Means Committee and can attest to his understanding of the distinct challenges low-income and underserved communities face and his sincere interest in using public policy to help address those challenges.” (Full statement)

Private Essential Access Community Hospitals: “Mr. Becerra served on the House Ways and Means Committee and showed a commitment to developing and supporting public policies that reflected his understanding of the distinct challenges low-income and underserved communities face and made a difference in the lives of the people he represented. We are confident he would do the same as Secretary of Health and Human Services, including pursuing a much-needed effort to address the underlying health equity challenges that we must address as a nation.” (Full statement)

Providence: Our health system looks forward to working with Mr. Becerra in his new capacity once confirmed, as we take on critical health issues facing our nation and communities… We have had the privilege of working with Mr. Becerra during his tenure in Congress and as Attorney General in California, another state where Providence has a large footprint. We have experienced, firsthand, Mr. Becerra’s leadership in ensuring access to care for vulnerable communities and addressing racial and ethnic inequities in health care.” (Full statement)

Urgent Care Association: The HHS Secretary must work collaboratively across many organizations, including associations like UCA, to ensure integrity and effective cooperation. In addition, the Secretary should have an expansive perspective on all aspects of healthcare delivery including scopes of care, an understanding of business, legal and regulatory requirements and barriers. Attorney General Becerra is uniquely qualified and experienced in all of these areas.” (Full statement)

Xavier Becerra Will Protect Health Care and Expand Access

Senate HELP and Finance Committees Will Hold Confirmation Hearings for Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra This Week

President Biden’s historic pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, California Attorney General  Xavier Becerra, has decades of experience protecting health care access, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and has worked to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. If confirmed, Becerra will be a strong advocate for health care.

Secretary-designate Becerra is an experienced litigator who is more than capable of protecting health care access and affordability. As California’s attorney general, Becerra was instrumental in filing over 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration, including leading the fight in Texas v. California, another attempt by Republicans to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Becerra also worked with 11 state attorneys general to protect consumers against so-called junk health care plans that evade ACA basic coverage requirements. In 2014, when House Republicans tried to stop cost sharing reduction payments, Becerra intervened on behalf of consumers and helped to reach a settlement. After the Trump administration targeted immigrant families who rely on health safety net programs with the “Public Charge” rule, Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general who successfully won a preliminary injunction against the rule. 

Secretary-designate Becerra is also an experienced legislator. Before Becerra was attorney general of California, he spent 24 years in the House of Representatives including time at the Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee,where he worked tirelessly to protect Medicare and Social Security. There, he was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act which has extended coverage to more than 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions. Becerra helped draft the bipartisan Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), which directed the HHS Secretary to study the impact of socioeconomic status on Medicaid’s value-based programs. Becerra is also an experienced dealmaker who has worked to resolve legislative conflicts. During ACA negotiations, Becerra was essential in resolving a conflict between members with urban and rural districts and won the confidence of both sides by ensuring a funding model that relied on facts and science.

Secretary-designate Becerra has fought for affordable and accessible prescription drug prices during his career. As attorney general, he led the defense of California’s law that bans “pay for delay” agreements that keep generic versions of medications off of the market. As part of this defense, Becerra was able to secure $70 million in agreements against pharmaceutical companies He led a bipartisan group of attorneys general to force major drug manufacturers to follow the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides drug discounts to low income and uninsured groups. As a member of the House, Becerra launched a House Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force in 2016, which sought to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. Becerra is unafraid to stand up to drug manufacturers, having secured a $10 million agreement with the pharmaceutical companies Royal Pharmaceuticals and Seton Pharmaceuticals after a reporting error led to the underpayment of Medicaid drug rebates. Becerra will be able to work to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs are affordable and accessible. 

Secretary-designate Becerra is also the right fit for this position at a time when HHS needs a strong leader who will work with the entirety of the government to put an end to the pandemic. From the beginning of the pandemic, Becerra urged former President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to provide sufficient PPE. In the midst of the pandemic, Becerra joined other attorneys general in calling on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to increase transparency and accountability from nursing homes. As a result, CMS issued interim rules that required nursing homes to inform family members about COVID-19 infections and ensured that federal health agencies received data on any cases. Becerra also led the fight to ensure that potentially-lifesaving drugs to combat COVID-19 were available to those that need them.

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed 500,000 Americans, needlessly delaying this confirmation process continues to put more lives at risk. 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.

Xavier Becerra Has the Experience and Qualifications Needed to Be Secretary of HHS:

Expanding Access To Care & Lowering Costs

  • Becerra was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act and helped write the portion of the ACA that addresses Medicare benefits and reimbursements. 
  • Becerra served in Congress for 24 years and was the first Latino to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee where he tirelessly worked to protect Medicare and Social Security.
  • Starting in 2007, Becerra was the lead sponsor of the Medicare Savings Programs Improvement Act. The bill expanded cost-sharing subsidies for low-income seniors who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits by increasing the amount of resources they could receive and making assistance available to more seniors who need medical care, but can’t afford it. Portions of Becerra’s legislation were included in legislation passed by the House in 2008 and 2015
  • Becerra sponsored legislation to raise the cap on benefits for patients receiving Medicare physical therapy. 
  • In 2009, Becerra sponsored the E-Centives Act, which provided incentives for Medicaid providers to improve care by implementing electronic health records. A version of Becerra’s bill was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 
  • Becerra helped draft the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (IMPACT) of 2014, requiring the HHS Secretary to conduct research on issues related to socioeconomic status in Medicare’s value-based programs.
  • During negotiations over the ACA, Speaker Pelosi asked Becerra to resolve a dispute between a group of members of Congress representing rural areas and members ailing from large urban areas about the fairness of Medicare payments.  Becerra secured their confidence in how the ACA would handle Medicare payments by assuring them that Congress would rely on the facts and science to determine payments long-term and he secured short-term relief for states with Medicare per enrollment spending (states that represented more rural areas) — an additional $400 million for their communities, each year for two consecutive years.
  • As California Attorney General, Becerra worked with the state senate on legislation that would make healthcare more affordable and accessible by cracking down on anticompetitive behavior and consolidation in the healthcare market. The bill required the Attorney General’s Office to review and approve affiliations or acquisitions between healthcare systems, facilities, or provider groups to ensure transactions either improve care coordination or increase healthcare access for underserved populations. 
  • As California Attorney General, Becerra took on Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in northern California, reaching a $575 million settlement for anti-competitive behavior and price gouging charges.

Fighting to Protect the Affordable Care Act

  • In the House, Becerra fought back against multiple attempts to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, voting at least nine times against efforts to fully repeal or defund the law. Becerra stood up to protect the law and its achievements, which he said he was “very proud” of. 
  • Becerra has been a stalwart legal defender of the Affordable Care Act, taking on at least four cases to protect the law: 
    • Becerra has led the 20+ state coalition of attorneys general fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act from the Republican effort to repeal the entire law via the California v. Texas lawsuit. The case was heard at the Supreme Court on November 10, 2020. 
    • Becerra joined a coalition of attorneys general filing a lawsuit in opposition to the Trump administration’s expansion of Association Health Plans that offer junk insurance that doesn’t have to comply with ACA coverage requirements and protections. 
    • Becerra intervened in House v. Hargan, a lawsuit filed by Republicans seeking to eliminate cost sharing reduction payments and undercut the affordability of the ACA’s health plans. He then led a multi-state coalition in California v. Trump suing the administration over its decision to stop making CSR payments as required by the ACA. 
  • Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general who successfully secured a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s “Public Charge” rule, which targeted immigrant families who often rely on health safety net programs. 

Reducing Drug Prices

  • Becerra led the defense of California’s law banning collusive “pay for delay” pharmaceutical agreements that delay generic drugs from entering the market and keep costs high. Becerra secured nearly $70 million in settlements against drug companies for entering these “pay for delay” agreements. 
  • Becerra launched a House Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force in 2016 to address the rising costs of prescription drugs. 
  • Becerra led a bipartisan coalition to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides drug discounts to low-income and uninsured populations. 
  • Becerra helped secure a $10 million settlement with two pharmaceutical companies, Royal Pharmaceuticals and Seton Pharmaceuticals, after a reporting error led to the underpayment of Medicaid drug rebates.

Fighting The Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Becerra led a bipartisan multi-state coalition to urge the federal government to take action to increase the supply and affordability of drugs to fight Covid-19.
  • Becerra has repeatedly urged President Trump to fully invoke the National Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans have enough PPE. 
  • In May 2020, Becerra and other state attorneys general called on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to increase transparency and accountability from nursing homes as Covid-19 continued to spread through Medicare and Medicaid facilities. Following Becerra’s letter, CMS issued interim rules to ensure that nursing homes would quickly notify family members of illness and provide data to federal public health institutions about any cases

Reproductive Rights And Equitable Care

  • Becerra sued to overturn the Trump administration’s “Healthcare Refusal Rule,” which jeopardizes health and safety by allowing anyone remotely involved in a healthcare transaction—from doctors to ambulance drivers or front office staff— to deny care on religious or moral objections. 
  • Becerra is a stalwart supporter of reproductive freedom. He led a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s rules that would take away access to birth control and defended the Title X Family Planning Program in court, which funds care for more than four million people each year. 

State Leaders Urge Swift Confirmation of Xavier Becerra

In op-eds across the country, state leaders, including doctors, elected officials, and health care advocates, urged the Senate to move quickly to confirm Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra has decades of experience protecting and expanding health care access, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and fighting for health care equity. These state leaders make clear that needlessly delaying this confirmation process will put more lives at risk in the middle of a pandemic that has killed nearly 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.

ALASKA

Michelle Turner, Alaskan Environmental Scientist: We Need Health Care Leadership Now. “Key to President Biden’s plan to slow the spread of the virus, and rebuild our economy is his appointment of a competent, experienced, diverse team, led by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra. Mr. Becerra is the right person for the job; it is essential that he be confirmed and assume his duties as soon as possible.” [Midnight Sun, 2/2/21

FLORIDA

Dr. Manrique Iriarte, Primary Care Doctor In Miami: To Florida’s Senators — Confirm Xavier Becerra For HHS Secretary To Jump-Start Federal Covid-19 Response. “With more than 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19, including 24,000 Floridians and millions more out of work, the Joe Biden administration must make up for lost time in tackling the pandemic and rebuilding our nation’s economy. That is why, now more than ever, we need a strong, experienced leader to serve as Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, and Xavier Becerra is the right person for the job. Congress should immediately move to confirm his nomination once it is up for a vote in the Senate — including our two Senators from Florida.” [FloridaPolitics, 1/21/21

MAINE

Don Berry, President Of The Maine Chapter Of The Alliance For Retired Americans: Becerra Is The Right Person To Head HHS. Senate Should Confirm Him Quickly. “We have waited long enough for real leadership, and with the virus spreading in Maine and across the country, we cannot wait any longer. The pandemic demands a strong and knowledgeable HHS secretary who can marshal the people and resources to not only contain the spread of the virus, but also ensure a smooth and equitable vaccination distribution program that doesn’t leave communities behind. Xavier Becerra is the right person at the right time and he deserves the support of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate. To delay his appointment is to prolong our suffering and put millions more Americans’ lives in jeopardy.” [Bangor Daily News, 2/10/21

NORTH CAROLINA

David Miner, Former Republican Member Of The NC General Assembly: Xavier Becerra’s Leadership At HHS Will Jumpstart Federal Covid-19 Response. “Throughout his career, Xavier Becerra has been on the frontlines fighting to expand access to affordable care and protect underserved communities. As a member of Congress, Becerra was an original co-sponsor of the Affordable Care Act, and a staunch defender of Medicare and Medicaid.” [BlueNC, 1/26/21

OHIO

Franklin Co. Commissioner John Grady: Confirm Becerra For HHS To Defend Health Care. “President Joe Biden has smartly selected Xavier Becerra, the ACA’s defender-in-chief, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  For the past four years, Americans have watched the Trump administration repeatedly and relentlessly attack the ACA — even amidst a national public health emergency. Congress now must confirm a health care champion as Secretary of HHS.” [Columbus Dispatch, 2/3/21

Doni Miller, CEO Of Neighborhood Health Association: Becerra’s Leadership Will Jumpstart U.S. Coronavirus Response. “In his 24 years in Congress, Mr. Becerra worked across the aisle to get things done, prioritizing the health and safety of his community over partisan differences. As HHS Secretary, Mr. Becerra will ‘hit the reset’ experts are call-ing for to revitalize our country’s vaccine rollout.” [Toledo Blade, 1/29/21

WISCONSIN

Dr. Joanna Bisgrove And Dr. Jeff Huener, Family Physicians: Wisconsinites Can’t Wait: Confirm The Next Secretary Of Health And Human Services ASAP. “As the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden crafts plans to get the pandemic under control, they will also have to contend with the forthcoming decision in the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Given the enormity of these twin challenges facing the U.S. health care system, the nomination of Xavier Becerra, the ACA’s defender-in-chief, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services is a superb choice.” [Wisconsin Examiner, 1/19/21

Jocasta Zamarripa, Milwaukee Alderwoman And First Latina Elected To The Wisconsin Legislature: We Need Andrea Palm and Xavier Becerra in Biden’s Health and Human Services. “Becerra’s nomination demonstrates the seriousness with which President Biden has been working to develop a comprehensive plan to get the virus under control, so that we can rebuild our economy quickly. As a former member of Congress who led the fight to expand health care and who has been fiercely defending in court every American’s ability to access that care, Becerra is uniquely qualified to serve as Health and Human Services Secretary. [UpNorthNews, 2/21/21]

COVERAGE: Biden Picks Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to Lead CMS

Yesterday, Biden selected Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Brooks-LaSure previously served as a senior CMS official during the Obama administration and was instrumental in implementing the Affordable Care Act. Coverage shows she is a strong health care advocate with the experience needed to expand access to health care coverage, make care more affordable, and get the pandemic under control. 

Politico: Brooks-LaSure “Will Play A Leading Role In Crafting Biden’s Plans To Expand On The Health Care Law — And Unwind Much Of The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Minimize It.” “Brooks-LaSure, an Obama administration veteran who oversaw implementation of Obamacare, if confirmed will play a leading role in crafting Biden’s plans to expand on the health care law – and unwind much of the Trump administration’s efforts to minimize it.” [Politico, 2/17/21

Brooks-LaSure Helped Draft The Affordable Care Act As A Health Staffer On The House Ways And Means Committee. “Prior to her stint in the Obama administration, she worked on parts of Obamacare during the law’s drafting as a health staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee. It was there she forged working ties with then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to run the health department that houses CMS.” [Politico, 2/17/21

CNN: “Brooks-LaSure Would Be A Key Player In Executing Biden’s Promises To Rebuild The Affordable Care Act And Strengthen Medicaid.” “Brooks-LaSure would be a key player in executing Biden’s promises to rebuild the Affordable Care Act and strengthen Medicaid — as well as institute a government-run public option and lower Medicare’s eligibility age to 60, from 65. The $1 trillion agency, the largest within HHS, oversees much of Obamacare and the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov. In total, more than 145 million Americans receive their health coverage through programs the agency administers, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act.” [CNN, 2/17/21

CNN: “Brooks-LSure Would Be Tasked With Reversing Many Of The Policies Put In Place By Her Predecessor, Seema Verma.” “Brooks-LaSure would be tasked with reversing many of the policies put in place by her predecessor, Seema Verma, who served as the agency’s administrator for nearly four years. Under Verma’s tenure, CMS slashed funding for Obamacare marketing and outreach, cut the open enrollment period in half and promoted the use of private insurance brokers over non-profit navigators to help people find coverage.” [CNN, 2/17/21

Stat: “Brooks-LaSure Is Well-Positioned To Pursue One Of Biden’s Signature Campaign Promises: Strengthening And Expanding The Affordable Care Act.” “Brooks-LaSure is well-positioned to pursue one of Biden’s signature campaign promises: strengthening and expanding the Affordable Care Act. She was a key drafter of the law as a staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee. Brooks-LaSure later held high-profile positions in two offices tasked with implementing the ACA: the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and the Office of Health Reform.” [Stat, 2/17/21

Stat: Brooks-LaSure Would “Inherit An Agency Dogged By Countless Controversies During The Trump Administration.” “Brooks-LaSure would also inherit an agency dogged by countless controversies during the Trump administration. Many centered on the former CMS administrator, Seema Verma, who pursued policies that transformed the agency’s mission and repeatedly landed it in court. Brooks-LaSure would inherit those lawsuits, most notably a Supreme Court case set to be argued in March challenging the agency’s new policy of denying health coverage to unemployed Medicaid beneficiaries.” [Stat, 2/17/21

One Month In: Joe Biden’s Health Care Presidency

After just one month in office, President Biden has proven he is a health care president. President Biden has taken swift action to expand coverage, lower costs, and reduce racial disparities in health care all while working to contain the coronavirus pandemic. President Biden has proposed the American Rescue Plan to help the country get the pandemic under control, put forth policies that will build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), opened a special enrollment period to help Americans get coverage, removed barriers to enrolling in Medicaid, and reversed the Trump administration’s dangerous position trying to invalidate the ACA. This is a stark contrast from the past four years of Republican sabotage on health care. 

On Increasing Health Care Access & Prioritizing Health Care Equity 

  • President Biden reopened HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help Americans gain coverage as they continue to suffer from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Reopening the ACA Marketplace means nearly 9 million people will be eligible for free or subsidized health insurance coverage.
  • The Biden administration will invest $50 million in marketing and education efforts during the special enrollment period to reach groups that have historically experienced lower access to health coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes.
  • President Biden established a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to mitigate the health disparities revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic. 
  • President Biden directed federal agencies to consider actions to strengthen and protect access to health care. 

On Reversing Trump Sabotage

  • The Biden administration announced it will defend the Affordable Care Act in California v. Texas, the lawsuit before the Supreme Court to completely dismantle the law. This move reverses the Trump administration’s support for ripping away coverage from more than 20 million Americans and protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions.
  • President Biden directed federal agencies to re-examine policies that undermine the ACA and Medicaid. These policies include:
  • Policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19
  • ACA and Medicaid waivers that could reduce enrollment, including Medicaid work requirements
  • Policies that undermine the ACA Marketplace 
  • Policies that make it more difficult to enroll in the ACA or Medicaid
  • Policies that reduce coverage affordability or limit financial assistance 
  • The Biden administration sent letters to states signaling it would end Trump’s disastrous work requirements program. 

On The American Rescue Plan

  • Upon taking office, President Biden immediately introduced the American Rescue Plan, a bold plan designed to combat the COVID-19 crisis. The package includes important measures to reduce health care costs and expand coverage for low- and middle-class families, many of whom may be out of work or facing income loss during the pandemic. The legislation is working through Congress and expected to pass in the coming weeks. The American Rescue plan: 
    • Lowers health care costs for millions by increasing financial assistance in the exchanges for the next two years and making financial assistance more widely available to middle class families, ensuring people purchasing coverage on the ACA marketplaces will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage. Similar legislation previously passed by the House would lower costs for more than 10 million Americans and provide affordable options for uninsured Americans at a time when access to health care is paramount. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 1.3 million uninsured people would gain coverage as a result of these provisions alone. 
    • Expands coverage by providing robust financial incentives for the 14 states that have not yet implemented Medicaid expansion. For example, Georgia would receive nearly $2 billion in federal funding over the next two years, more than enough to cover the cost of expansion. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, if these states implemented expansion, nearly four million uninsured adults — including 640,000 frontline workers — could gain coverage.
    • Increases vaccine distribution by investing $160 billion in direct COVID-19 response, including ramping up vaccination efforts, boosting testing, shoring up supplies of PPE, expanding sequencing and analytics efforts, and hiring 100,000 public health workers. This much needed funding will make sure more Americans are able to get vaccinated more quickly, which is key to getting the pandemic under control.
    • Strengthens health care in vulnerable communities by providing health services for underserved populations, including expanding Community Health Centers and investing in health services on tribal lands. These funds will support the expansion of COVID treatment and care as well as provide the vaccine to underserved populations.

SIDE BY SIDE: What Open Enrollment Looks Like Under President Biden After Four Years of Trump Sabotage

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opened the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for enrollment as Americans continue to face the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. This move ensures that everyone—including those who lost employer coverage and those who were uninsured before the crisis—can get covered beyond the standard open enrollment period. The Trump administration refused to take this important step despite pleas from health care experts, health insurers and lawmakers. 

Open enrollment under President Biden will look significantly different from the past four years. In 2017, Trump cut the outreach and advertising budget for enrollment by 90 percent. Funding for advertising and outreach remained at diminished levels for the 2021 enrollment period, even as millions lost coverage as a result of the pandemic. The Trump administration also cut the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days. This was on top of ongoing efforts to dismantle the ACA, which undoubtedly created confusion among consumers. Unsurprisingly, millions lost coverage under Trump even before the pandemic. 

The Biden administration, on the other hand, is spending five times more on education and outreach during this special enrollment period than Trump spent for the standard enrollment period. The Biden administration has also pledged to prioritize reaching groups that historically have experienced lower access to health coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes. President Biden is also leading the charge to pass the American Rescue Plan which includes key provisions to expand coverage and lower health care costs for American families.

 

Trump’s PlanPresident Biden’s Plan 
Efforts to expand health coverage during the pandemicNone 

Trump instead pursued harmful waivers to reduce Medicaid enrollment, including block grants and work requirements, in the middle of the pandemic. 

Opened a special enrollment period

Biden directed the HHS to examine policies that undermine the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Additionally, the Biden administration announced it would end Medicaid work requirements as part of its efforts to remove enrollment barriers.

Funding for education, outreach & advertisingCut funding for outreach and advertising to just $10 million for the standard enrollment period Dedicating $50 milion for the special enrollment period alone 
Duration of enrollment period45 days90 days for the special enrollment period in addition to the standard enrollment period later this year
Efforts to enroll hard-to-reach populations, including communities of color & non-English speakersNone — the Trump administration stopped engaging with partner groups, such as the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition, women’s groups, medical organizations, and churches. CMS will collaborate with community partners to reach groups that historically have experienced lower access to health coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes.

THEN/NOW: February 15, 2017 vs February 15, 2021

What a difference a new administration makes. For four years, Donald Trump and his Republican allies waged a war on America’s health care. President Biden opening a special enrollment period four years to the day of Donald Trump trying to tear apart the ACA marketplaces is a prime example of the stark differences between these two administrations.

THEN:Trump Administration’s New Health Rule Would Reduce Tax Credits, Raise Costs, For Millions of Moderate-Income Families.” “The Trump Administration’s new proposed rule on health care would raise premiums, out-of-pocket costs, or both for millions of moderate-income families…If finalized as proposed, the rule would reduce the amount of health care that marketplace plans have to cover. As a result, the rule would force millions of families to choose between higher premiums and worse coverage.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/15/17

NOW: President Biden To Open Up The Federal Health Insurance Marketplace For Three Months. “The move is in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s approach. As covid-19 took hold last spring and the economy imploded, health experts pleaded with the Trump administration to open up the federal marketplace so people could buy insurance to protect themselves during the worst public health emergency in a century…The Biden administration is promising to spend $50 million on outreach and education to get the word out about the new special enrollment period. That’s critical, experts said. [Kaiser Health News, 2/16/21

ACA Special Enrollment Period Begins to Provide Relief to Americans Battling Pandemic

Robust Outreach and Education Campaign WIll Reach More Americans with Information About Affordable Coverage Options

Washington, DC — Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opened the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for enrollment, as Americans continue to face the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. President Biden enacted the special enrollment period with a January executive order. The Marketplace opens today and will remain open through Saturday, May 15. According to CMS, 9 in 10 current Marketplace enrollees receive financial help, and 75 percent of consumers can find a plan for $50 or less. CMS will also launch outreach efforts including broadcast, radio, and digital advertising to let people know they may be eligible for subsidies. These outreach efforts will prioritize reaching groups that historically have experienced lower access to health coverage and greater disparities in health outcomes. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“President Biden is delivering on his health care promises. For four years, Republicans waged a war on America’s health care. President Biden is doing the opposite. Thanks to the President’s actions, millions of Americans will now be able to buy affordable quality health insurance for themselves and their families. This is so important during this pandemic, when millions have lost their job or can no longer afford their insurance and where every American is worried about their access to health care. The President’s announcement of a $50 million marketing campaign will mean more Americans know that affordable health insurance is now within their reach. This move comes on the heels of a historic week for health care, where the House Democrats strengthened the already substantial health care provisions proposed by President Biden in the American Rescue Plan. It’s clear President Biden and Democrats are using every tool at their disposal to build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act to lower costs and expand coverage.”

American Rescue Plan Includes Critical Medicaid Expansion Measures

Watch Protect Our Care’s Video Explainer Here

Washington, DC — House Democrats released parts of their American Rescue Plan Tuesday night, which would incentivize the 12 remaining holdout states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. If these states expanded Medicaid, nearly 6 million could gain coverage. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider the bill this week. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Congressional Democrats are taking decisive action to expand health care coverage to Americans when they need it the most — in the middle of a pandemic when millions have lost their jobs or their health insurance. After years of Republican led sabotage, lawsuits and attempts at repeal, House Democrats are delivering on their promise to lower health care costs, improve care, and expand coverage. This is a historic week in the fight for better health care. Medicaid expansion has played a vital role in reducing racial disparities in health care access and has served as a critical safety net for millions. Providing increased financial incentives for states to expand Medicaid could expand coverage to six million more Americans. The bill also works to reduce racial inequities by addressing the maternal mortality crisis, by enabling states to expand Medicaid coverage to new mothers 12 months postpartum. For far too long states with Republican governors like Texas, Georgia, and Florida have refused to expand Medicaid and have instead chosen to deny their constituents the affordable quality health care they deserve. Now, they will have no more excuses.”

HEADLINES: President Biden Delivers on Campaign Promise to Expand Access to Health Care

On Thursday, President Biden signed executive orders to reopen HealthCare.gov for a special enrollment period to help people get coverage and remove barriers to enrolling in Medicaid. These executive orders build on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act just as Americans who are facing an ever-worsening public health crisis need help the most. Coverage shows President Biden is committed to delivering on his health care promises and reversing the health care sabotage agenda of Trump and Republicans. These executive orders are important first steps to making sure Americans have more affordable health coverage and access to better care. 

Washington Post: Biden Reopens ACA Enrollment for Three Months in Opening Bid to Extend Health Coverage. “The directive, part of a series of executive actions the president is taking during his first days in office, is a down payment on his pledge to make health care more accessible and affordable and a sign of his determination to rehabilitate the landmark law after four years of Republican battering. Those goals have taken on more urgency as 25 million people have been infected with the coronavirus and millions of others have lost jobs.” [Washington Post, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden Moves to Expand Health Coverage in Pandemic Economy. “President Biden on Thursday ordered the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces reopened to give people throttled by the pandemic economy a new chance to obtain coverage, and he took steps to restore coverage mandates that had been undermined by his predecessor, including protecting those with pre-existing medical conditions. Thursday’s orders also took aim at Trump-era restrictions on Medicaid, especially on work requirements imposed by some states on poor people trying to obtain coverage.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps No Policy Is as Important to [Biden] as the Affordable Care Act, Which He Helped Secure as President Barack Obama’s Vice President.” Mr. Biden used Thursday’s appearance at the White House to begin shoring up health care programs and policies that have been critical to a Democratic resurgence. Perhaps no policy is as important to him as the Affordable Care Act, which he helped secure as President Barack Obama’s vice president. President Donald J. Trump tried and failed to overturn the law, then weakened it with executive actions and rules, including making it easier for people to buy cheap, short-term plans that are not required to cover pre-existing medical conditions. [New York Times, 1/28/21

AP: Biden Opens ‘Obamacare’ Window For Uninsured As COVID Rages. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered government health insurance markets to reopen for a special sign-up window, offering uninsured Americans a haven as the spread of COVID-19 remains dangerously high and vaccines aren’t yet widely available. Biden signed an executive order directing the HealthCare.gov insurance markets to take new applications for subsidized benefits, something Donald Trump’s administration had refused to do.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/28/21]

USA Today: Biden Signs Executive Action to Reopen Obamacare Enrollment Amid COVID-19, End Gag Rule. “President Joe Biden on Thursday took initial steps to expand health care coverage and reverse some of the policies of former President Donald Trump, including directing that people be given a new chance to sign up for government-subsidized care and lifting restrictions on abortion and family planning services.” [USA Today, 1/28/21

The Hill: Biden Signs Health Care Executive Actions to ‘Undo The Damage’ Caused by Trump. “President Biden on Thursday signed two executive actions focused on health care, describing the directives as a necessary effort to ‘undo the damage’ done by former President Trump…The president repeatedly insisted Thursday that the directives did nothing but reverse the Trump administration’s policies and restore the policies of the Obama administration.” [The Hill, 1/28/21

CNN: Biden Signs Executive Order to Reopen Affordable Care Act Enrollment. “It’s Biden’s first move toward delivering on his campaign promise to bolster the landmark health reform law that he championed as vice president. And it comes as more Americans could be facing the loss of coverage because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn.” [CNN, 1/28/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden to Reopen ACA Marketplace, Revisit Work Requirements. “President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered HHS to create a special enrollment period to allow people to sign up for a health plan through Affordable Care Act marketplaces and reexamine policies like Medicaid work requirements that make it more difficult for individuals to access or afford coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 1/28/21

The Upshot: Biden’s Obamacare Do-Over: Another Chance to Sign Up, This One More Publicized. “In December, the last Obamacare enrollment period under the Trump administration closed. Now that the Biden administration has arrived, it’s trying a do-over. The renewed effort reflects the Biden team’s view that the Trump administration did too little to help people find coverage, despite a public health crisis and waves of job losses. Although insurance sign-ups were up a bit compared with last year, the growth did not match the increase in need.” [New York Times, 1/28/21

New York Times: Biden’s Health Care Moves. “Biden’s orders still matter, because Trump’s actions mattered. Biden will try to strengthen protections for people with medical conditions. He will also create a new three-month sign-up period for Obamacare, starting next month, aimed partly at people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The most recent sign-up period was in the fall.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

  • New York Times: “Perhaps Most Significant, the Biden Administration Plans to Promote the Sign-Up Period Heavily.” “Perhaps most significant, the Biden administration plans to promote the sign-up period heavily, through advertisements, email and other outreach, according to my colleague Margot Sanger-Katz, who’s been covering Obamacare for most of its existence. ‘Biden’s people think the Trump people bungled the regular enrollment period,’ Margot told me.” [New York Times, 1/29/21

The Health 202: HealthCare.gov Will Now Be Open During Tax Season.“This special sign-up period could help the Biden administration start reversing incremental declines in ACA enrollment. Over the course of the Trump administration, the number of people buying coverage on HealthCare.gov gradually eroded. Biden, who has made boosting marketplace enrollment a top goal, said yesterday that ‘basically the best way’ to describe his action is that it is intended “to undo the damage Trump has done.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

  • The Health 202: “Biden’s Health Care Order Puts Medicaid Work Requirements Under the Microscope.” “Biden’s health-care order puts Medicaid work requirements under the microscope. Biden’s executive order on health care also directs federal agencies to reexamine rules that have made it more difficult for people to enroll in Medicaid or that could undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions.” [Washington Post, 1/29/21

Talking Points Memo: Biden Signs Exec Order ‘Restoring the Affordable Care Act’ After Trump’s Sabotage Attempts. “During its first two years, the Trump administration gutted money for advertising and for community groups that helped people enroll, seeing such an effort as wasteful. Biden’s executive order to reopen enrollment for a three-month period, extending from  Feb. 15 and May 15, may help people who have lost coverage in the past year due to the pandemic. Enrollment will be open, however, to those seeking health insurance for any reason, in any of the 36 states that use Healthcare.gov.” [Talking Points Memo, 1/28/21]