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HEADLINES: With Senate Majority, President-Elect Biden Can Take Bold Action on Health Care

By January 11, 2021No Comments

With the election of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the U.S. Senate, health care champions have secured a majority in the chamber and are ready to help deliver on President-elect Biden’s bold health care agenda. Coverage shows Democrats capturing the Senate majority creates opportunities for the Biden administration to enact the president-elect’s vision to lower costs, expand coverage and defend the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

New York Times: With New Majority, Here’s What Democrats Can (and Can’t) Do on Health Care. “Congress is most likely to act on a set of changes meant to expand the Affordable Care Act and to make health coverage less expensive for those who buy their own plans. One priority is raising the income ceiling for those who receives subsidies, expanding the number of people who qualify for help. Another is rewriting formulas to peg the size of the subsidy to a more generous health insurance plan, a way to increase the amount of assistance…Democratic legislators may also be eager to protect the A.C.A. another way, passing legislation that would neuter Texas v. California, the pending Supreme Court challenge that argues the entire A.C.A. is unconstitutional.” [New York Times, 1/7/21]

Washington Post: The Georgia Wins Gave Democrats the Narrowest of Openings for Passing Health Policy. “For the first time since passing Obamacare a decade ago, Democrats will have a narrow margin to push health-care legislation through Congress without GOP help…House Democrats have made clear where they’d like to go on health care, in their ideal world. Last June, the House passed a significant expansion to the ACA. They knew it wouldn’t go anywhere under President Trump, but the measure laid down a marker for the direction Democratic leaders would like to move on the issue in the future.” [Washington Post, 1/7/21]

JAMA Network: Get Ready for a Lot of Biden Executive Orders on Health Care. “With the Democrats apparently poised to take control of the Senate following the runoff votes in Georgia, these proposals are all in play. However, some could be controversial even among Democrats, such as a public option health plan. Policies that can be enacted through complex rules governing budgetary legislation are most likely to move ahead because they can pass the Senate with simple majority votes and are not subject to a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome…President-elect Biden is expected to reverse the Trump administration waiver rules. He could go further and encourage states to use flexibility under the ACA and Medicaid to expand coverage and improve affordability for patients.” [JAMA Network, 1/7/21]

Healthcare Finance News: With Democrats Winning Both Georgia Runoff Elections, the Biden Administration Could Make Substantial Changes to Healthcare. “A Biden presidency is expected to impact the business of healthcare in the U.S., and with the Democratic victories in Georgia, the chances are now much greater that his proposed changes will come to pass in some form. The first and most obvious implication for the healthcare industry is that the ACA will remain intact in some form. With years-long Republican opposition to the law and attempts to overturn it in the courts, that wasn’t always a given.” [Healthcare Finance News, 1/7/21]

Vox: 3 Health Care Policy Predictions Now That Democrats Have Won Control of the Senate. “Democrats have won control of the Senate, and suddenly the possibilities for health care policy look a little wider than they did before the Georgia runoff elections. Their Senate majority will be slim as can be, and their margin for error in the House is also quite small. So it’s not going to be easy to get anything done. But it seems likely that the Biden White House and a Democratic Congress will try to pass legislation to expand health coverage.” [Vox, 1/6/21]

Modern Healthcare: Six Healthcare Policies Democrats Could Push with Control of the Senate. “Democrats will have much more latitude to pursue their healthcare agenda with a trifecta government because they could use a tool called budget reconciliation to pass certain types of legislation with a simple Senate majority instead of the usual 60-vote threshold. The process has limits, but some of Biden’s priorities could potentially be accomplished.” [Modern Healthcare, 1/6/21]

USA Today: ‘Buckle Up!’ A Democratic Senate Could Help Advance Biden’s Agenda. Here are Some Top Policy Items. “Biden hopes to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, which provides health care for millions of Americans….He says Americans can maintain private insurance, but a public option will also be available, particularly benefiting Americans who couldn’t access Medicaid because they live in the dozen states that didn’t allow them to do so under the ACA. Biden has said he would raise the subsidies people can use to help them buy coverage through ACA marketplaces. He says no family will have to spend more than 8.5% of their earnings on health coverage because of refundable tax credits for their premiums.” [USA Today, 1/6/21

Roll Call: Democrats Aim to Move Health Care Agenda Despite Slim Majorities. “Democrats’ priorities are unlikely to change significantly from recent years. House Democrats passed legislation last year to expand the size of premium tax credits to help people afford their monthly health insurance exchange premiums, as well as to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs. That could serve as a starting point for health care legislation.” [Roll Call, 1/7/21

Morning Consult: Medicaid, Obamacare Expected to Top Democrats’ Early Health Agenda, Former Aides and Policy Analysts Say. “President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow path to enact health care legislation in the next two years got a little bit wider this week. Democrats are set to take control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2011, and while COVID-19 is expected to dominate their agenda early on, lawmakers could take their first stabs at longtime priorities like expanding health coverage and lowering costs in the new year.” [Morning Consult, 1/8/21