In the first part of this series, we highlighted the overall health care focus of the Biden campaign and honed in on the campaign’s focus on providing a public option health plan that is proposed to be offered via the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s marketplace exchanges.
Beyond that, the Biden Plan is focused on the following policy priorities:
Robust family work policies: To relieve families of the stress associated with the lack of paid sick or family leave, the campaign promises to put into practice a 12-week paid family and medical leave for all workers and families.
COVID-19 pandemic: The plan proposes several tactics to support people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
o Testing: Widespread and free COVID-19 testing for everyone, including proactively testing services for the most vulnerable populations—the homeless, and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Investment in hiring staff for state and local public health departments to ensure contact tracing is adequately followed for everyone who tests positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The plan also proposes to make the vaccine and treatment for COVID-19 free for everyone.
o Continued insurance coverage despite job loss: To support those who have lost employment, and consequently insurance, due to the pandemic, the proposal recommends:
- Continued federal government–covered COBRA insurance so employees can remain on employer-sponsored plans
- Those who are yet unemployed when their COBRA plan expires or do not have access to employer-sponsored health care when it expires will be rolled over to another coverage option to avoid a gap in health care
ACA: The plan proposes to preserve and expand health insurance coverage, including providing states the support they need to expand Medicaid and enroll more eligible adults in the program, have the federal government foot a higher percentage of the bill, and provide additional incentives to states that haven’t expanded Medicaid to do so.
The ACA’s marketplace will be re-opened outside of the marketplaces and outside of the open enrollment season, with additional subsidies offered. The Biden Plan also proposes to end work requirement rules for Medicaid enrollees that were introduced by the Trump administration.
Focus on providing quality care at lower costs: There is a promise that insurance plans will be offered on the ACA marketplace with premiums at 8.5% or less of a family’s income and eliminating cap on subsidies. Additional promises, some of which are efforts already initiated by the Trump administration, include:
- Eliminating surprise medical billing
- Increasing price transparency within health care systems
- Antitrust laws to fight against mega-mergers in the hospital, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries that reduce market competition and raise the cost of care for patients
- Reduce prescription drug cost-sharing for patients
- Fill coverage voids for Medicare patients, namely for dental, vision, and hearing services
Eliminating health care inequities: An important agenda item in the proposal is the elimination of inequitable access to quality care based on race, gender, and geographic location. This would require tackling socioeconomic and environmental inequities that are a common barrier facing low-income and minority communities in the country: poor housing, hunger, inadequate transportation, air and water pollution, among others.
Patients Rising Now acknowledges the important contributions of Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, Ph.D. in this article. Improving patient access is our mission and we are happy to utilize a variety of experts to carry that out.