Today marks the beginning of a fledgling Biden administration healthcare blitz.
President Joe Biden on Thursday initiated long-awaited steps to overturn several health policies and administrative guidelines promulgated by the Trump administration. While these steps are hidden in the fog of the COVID pandemic, they also show a lens on Biden’s thinking on health policy in general and the direction he wants to take.
On the COVID front, administration is set to reopen the Affordable Care Act individual insurance markets, which provide subsidized coverage to people who do not have insurance with an employer or other public program like Medicare.
With millions of Americans losing their jobs during the pandemic, it would give people three more months to enroll during a special enrollment period. Typically, you can only buy insurance for a period of several months at the end of the year, a policy intended to prevent a person from purchasing a plan only when they are ill.
But there is another order Biden issues Thursday that could have longer-term political effect: asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider a Trump-era policy that allows states to impose job requirements on people who want to sign up for Medicaid, the health care program for some of the poorest Americans. These demands have already been overturned by the courts and will eventually end up in the Supreme Court. Other changes include easing restrictions on federal funding for clinics that perform abortions.
Many of these ordinances must spread through the administrative state levels and likely follow the judicial process.
But the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest professional group of physicians, has welcomed the initial measures. “The opening of the ACA scholarships provides a crucial lifeline at a time when people are losing their insurance due to layoffs in the wake of the pandemic,” the organization said in a statement. “We also welcome the administration’s decision to remove barriers to Medicaid enrollment, which will fix holes in the health care safety net.”
Wider changes will require congressional action as administrative policies don’t have the same resistance as a law, as evidenced by Biden’s cancellation of Trump-era regulations.
Read on for today’s news and see you next week.