Health Reform WK-EDGE Medicare, ACA set to be revived under a Biden administration
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Medicare, ACA set to be revived under a Biden administration

By WK Editorial Staff

How does Joe Biden’s presidential election win affect the ACA, Medicare, pandemic response, and more?

Out with the old, in with the new. Except this time, what’s new is familiar territory: a return to more traditional policies, process, and personalities. The 2020 presidential election of Joe Biden is sure to usher in a revival of many Obama-era priorities — expanding health care access, environmental protections, worker rights, international trade alliances, anticorruption measures, disaster preparedness, corporate accountability, etc. — all familiar Democratic themes in the pre-Trump White House. In short, what’s old may well be new again.

ACA. While President Donald Trump attempted to undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) during his term, Joe Biden, who was vice president when the ACA passed in 2010, has vowed to protect the law. Citing that the number of uninsured Americans has increased by 1.4 million since 2016, Biden intends to build on the ACA by providing a public health insurance option similar to Medicare, which he said would increase care coordination among doctors. In addition, he would expand the tax credit for coverage in the marketplace and increase premium subsidies.

Medicare. One of the better known items on Biden’s health agenda is his proposal to lower the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60. In addition, the Biden plan includes expanding Medicare fee-for-service benefit coverage by adding vision, hearing, and dental benefits, allowing the HHS Secretary to negotiate and otherwise limit Medicare drug prices, and eliminating surprise medical billing. Biden is also focused on expanding health coverage to low-income individuals, which entails offering premium-free access to the public option and providing Medicaid coverage for people with incomes under 138 percent of the poverty level.

Despite their different approaches to health policy, Biden will likely pick up where Trump left off in expanding telehealth, encouraging value-based care, continuing various flexibilities for providers during the COVID-10 public health emergency.

COVID-19. Biden has emphasized the need for changes to the government’s COVID-19 response throughout 2020. In his first speech as President-Elect on November 7, 2020, Biden said, "... our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot repair the economy...relish life’s most precious moments...until we get it under control."

Biden plans a $25 billion investment in vaccine manufacturing and distribution. The investment will ensure that every American receives the vaccine free of cost, according to the plan. Three principles will guide the Biden-Harris Administration regarding vaccines: (1) putting scientists in charge of all decisions on safety and efficacy; (2) publicly releasing clinical data for any vaccine that the FDA approves; and (3) authorizing career staff to write a written report for public review and then permit them to appear before Congress and speak publicly and uncensored.

For a more comprehensive look at the 2020 election’s impact, spanning multiple subject areas, see Biden Victory Signals Abrupt U-Turn in Federal Regulatory Direction, Priorities.

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