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One Month In: Joe Biden’s Health Care Presidency

By February 18, 2021No Comments

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 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.