Democrats Make Historic Strides in Health Care

Just three weeks into Joe Biden’s presidency, he’s already proven himself as a health care champion. Since taking office, President Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan to help the country get the pandemic under control, proposed significant enhancements to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, and announced an upcoming special enrollment period so people impacted by the pandemic can get health insurance. This week, House Democrats worked to strengthen the vital health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan, and President Biden reversed Trump’s health care sabotage by putting the full support of the administration behind the ACA and denouncing the reckless lawsuit to invalidate the law. Coverage shows President Biden is prioritizing strengthening the ACA by expanding access to insurance and lowering costs. 

Democrats Include Key Health Care Measures In Their COVID Relief Package

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

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

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

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]

The Hill: Black Maternal Health Omnibus Package Introduced By Democratic Lawmakers. “A trio of Black lawmakers on Monday introduced an omnibus bill aimed at combating the significant health inequities that Black mothers face across the country…The package of bills would fund community organizations and state and local governments working to improve maternal health outcomes, training programs on bias, racism and discrimination in maternity care settings, and efforts to grow the perinatal workforce. It would also seek to address social determinants of health that can lead to poor health outcomes including access to housing, healthy food and water, transportation, child care services and improving access to health care.”  [The Hill, 2/8/21

Washington Post: The Health 202: Congress Is Moving To Lengthen Medicaid Coverage For New Moms. “Congressional Democrats have taken on a side project as they push forward President Biden’s coronavirus relief bill: nudging states to broaden their Medicaid programs. That includes lengthening coverage for new moms — a key Medicaid population who, in some states, can still get kicked off the program relatively quickly after giving birth. Legislation being marked up today says state Medicaid programs can cover new mothers for a full year.” [Washington Post, 2/11/21]

Stat: House Democrats Slip Drug-Pricing Proposal Into Covid-19 Relief Bill. “The policy aims to help states recoup some of the costs they incur in their Medicaid programs when drug makers hike the prices of certain drugs. Right now, federal law caps how much states can collect. Congress’s new policy would rescind that so-called ‘Medicaid rebate cap.’ The policy will have the biggest impact on drugs like insulin, which have seen massive price hikes and for which drug makers also give big discounts to private insurers.” [Stat, 2/9/21

President Biden Defends The ACA In Court

Wall Street Journal: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reject Challenge To Affordable Care Act. “The move was expected, as President Biden campaigned on expanding Obamacare along with a more vigorous federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Trump throughout his term denounced the signature law of the Obama administration, although he never proposed any alternative healthcare program after the Republican-controlled Congress rejected legislation to repeal the measure.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/10/21

Washington Post: Biden Administration Tells Supreme Court Obamacare Is Constitutional, Should Be Saved. “Just as Trump vowed to demolish Obamacare, as former president Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is known, Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, promised during the 2020 campaign to strengthen and build on the health-care law.” [Washington Post, 2/10/21

New York Times: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold Affordable Care Act. “In the years since the enactment of the law in 2010, Republicans have worked hard to destroy it, and President Donald J. Trump relentlessly criticized it. But attempts to repeal it failed, as did two earlier Supreme Court challenges, in 2012 and 2015. With the passing years, the law grew in popularity and was woven into the fabric of the health care system, and its future has appeared increasingly secure.” [New York Times, 2/10/21

CNN: Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Save Obamacare, Flipping Trump Arguments. “The Biden administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it should uphold the Affordable Care Act, reversing the position of the Trump administration that had urged the justices to strike down the entire law amid the coronavirus pandemic…Wednesday’s move highlights President Joe Biden’s belief that the law is on strong legal footing. Last month, Biden announced he would reopen enrollment on the Affordable Care Act exchanges for three months, announcing that he was signing executive orders related to the law to ‘undo the damage Trump has done.’ The special enrollment period starts on Monday.” [CNN, 2/10/21

The Hill: Biden Administration Urges Supreme Court To Uphold ObamaCare. “The Biden administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a reversal from the Trump administration’s backing of a constitutional challenge to the sweeping health care law…The development, while unsurprising, marked a dramatic shift in legal positions since November when the justices heard oral arguments in the case.” [The Hill, 2/10/21

Politico: Biden Admin Asks SCOTUS To Uphold Obamacare, Reversing Trump Support For Lawsuit. “The Biden administration is withdrawing the federal government’s support for a challenge to Obamacare, telling the Supreme Court that the law should remain on the books. The move by the Justice Department follows speculation on whether Biden would try to withdraw from the high-profile red state lawsuit — fully supported by the Trump administration — to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act.” [Politico, 2/10/21

Modern Healthcare: Biden Administration Supports ACA At Supreme Court, Drops Trump-Era Challenge. “While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the Biden administration on Wednesday took steps to support the landmark healthcare law. In a letter to the high court, the Justice Department under the new administration said it believes Obamacare’s individual mandate is constitutional. But if the justices disagree, the Biden administration believes the rest of the Affordable Care Act can stand without the provision requiring insurance coverage.” [Modern Healthcare, 2/10/21

Reuters: Biden Administration Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare Law. “President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Obamacare healthcare law should be upheld, reversing the position taken by the government under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.” [Reuters, 2/10/21

NBC News: Justice Department Switches Sides, Urging Supreme Court To Uphold Obamacare. “The Justice Department notified the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it no longer supports the effort by Texas and other red states to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.” [NBC News, 2/10/21