United States President Joe Biden is expected to take action Thursday to secure more American health insurance amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, in keeping with his campaign pledge to push the country towards coverage for all and to support women’s reproductive rights.
White House says Biden will sign executive order reopen HealthCare.gov markets, which his predecessor, Donald Trump, refused to do. He will also take steps to reverse other policies of the Trump administration, including restrictions on abortion counseling.
Biden has vowed to use former President Barack Obama’s health care law to achieve his goal of health insurance coverage for all Americans, rejecting the public single-payer system that Senator Bernie Sanders pushed because in its “Medicare for All” proposal. But to do so, he would need congressional approval, and opposition to the health care law still runs deep among Republicans.
In the United States, health care is not nationalized, and people rely on private insurance, government programs – such as Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for some with low incomes – to pay for the highest medical bills in the country. world.
For people who are uninsured or underinsured in the United States, medical bills can lead to serious financial hardship and, in many cases, bankruptcy. Biden calls health care a “personal” issue and has campaigned to make health care affordable for all Americans.
The most tangible near-term impact of Biden’s executive orders will come from the reopening of healthCare.gov insurance markets, as coverage diminished in the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic. This new three-month “special registration period” could begin as early as February 15, according to a White House summary.
Created under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” the markets offer taxpayer-subsidized coverage regardless of a person’s medical history or pre-existing conditions, including COVID-19.
Biden will also immediately rescind a federal policy that prohibits taxpayer funding of international nonprofit health care organizations offering abortion advice or referrals. Known as Mexico City politics, it can be turned on or off depending on whether Democrats or Republicans control the White House.
Other guidelines Biden plans to release on Thursday could take months to implement. Among them, he will charge the Ministry of Health and Social Services with:
- Consider whether to overturn Trump regulations that ban federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions. The ban on referrals led Planned Parenthood clinics to exit the program.
- Reconsider a Trump administration policy that allows states to impose work requirements as a condition for low-income people to purchase Medicaid health insurance. The job demands were blocked by federal judges, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the issue.
- Examine policies that could compromise protection for people with health conditions, such as a Trump administration rule that has made it easier to sell short-term health insurance plans that don’t have to cover pre-existing medical conditions.
The abortion-related actions will bring Biden immediate praise from women’s rights groups, as well as condemnation from social and religious conservatives. Under President Trump, abortion opponents have had carte blanche to try to rewrite federal policy, and now the political pendulum is pulling back.
Biden also campaigned to repeal long-standing federal bans on taxpayer funding for abortion, but a change of this magnitude to a group of laws known as the Hyde Amendment would require congressional approval.
The regulatory changes Biden is asking federal health officials to undertake are unlikely to happen overnight, as hastily written rules are more easily overturned in court, as the Trump administration has discovered. Time and time again, federal judges have ruled that Trump officials are ignoring regulators’ legal requirements, for example showing that they have considered all aspects of an issue.
There is wide support for the idea of reopening Obamacare’s health insurance markets, including from consumer groups, professional medical associations, insurers and business organizations.
Although the number of uninsured Americans has increased due to job losses in the coronavirus economy, the Trump administration has resisted calls to reopen HealthCare.gov. Failure to repeal and replace Obamacare as he had repeatedly promised was one of the former president’s bitterest disappointments. His administration continued to try to find ways to limit the program or untangle it entirely. A Supreme Court ruling on Trump’s final court challenge to the Affordable Care Act is expected this year.
The Obama-era health law covers over 23 million people through a mix of subsidized private insurance sold in all states, and expanded Medicaid adopted by 38 states, with southern states being the major exception. . Coverage is available for people who do not have employment-based health insurance, with the Medicaid extension aimed at those on low incomes.
Of the nearly 28 million Americans uninsured before the pandemic, more than 16 million were eligible for some form of subsidized coverage through health law, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates.
Experts agree that the number of uninsured people has increased due to layoffs in the coronavirus economy, possibly 5 to 10 million, but authoritative estimates await government studies expected later this year.