President Joe Biden has taken several steps to bolster Obamacare and reverse Trump administration measures aimed at weakening the landmark Affordable Care Act as it marks its 11th anniversary Tuesday.
Former President Barack Obama was set to speak Monday about the benefits of the health law and how the $1.9 trillion relief package strengthened it, CNN reported.
Not even two weeks on the job and Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to re-examine actions taken by former President Donald Trump, including those making it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and that reduce affordability or financial assistance.
He also signed a presidential memorandum in late January to reverse restrictions on abortion access domestically and abroad that had been imposed and expanded during Trump’s term, CNN reported.
“The Biden administration is seizing the moment and taking steps to improve access during the pandemic but also setting the groundwork for other ways to continue to strengthen and protect both Medicaid and the ACA,” Allison Orris, a partner at Manatt Health, a professional services firm, and former Obama administration official, told the news outlet.
The moves so far have included opening up Obamacare enrollment until May 15. The Obamacare exchange, healthcare.gov, reopened in mid-February for a special enrollment period.
Also, under the massive relief package, more Americans can qualify for heftier federal help paying for Obamacare policies for two years. Lower-income enrollees can have their premiums eliminated completely for two years, and those collecting unemployment benefits can sign up for coverage with no premiums in 2021.
The Biden Administration is also defending Obamacare before the Supreme Court. At issue is whether Obamacare’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when Congress reduced the penalty for remaining uninsured to zero and, if so, whether that would bring down the entire law. The justices heard oral arguments in November and a decision is expected in July, CNN reported.
The Biden administration also took steps to reverse the Trump administration’s allowance for about 12 states to require Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive coverage, CNN reported. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week sent letters to Arkansas and New Hampshire withdrawing work requirement approvals granted by the Trump administration, CNN reported.
An added asset to Biden’s push will likely be his newly confirmed Health Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Leslie Dach, a former senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration, said Becerra appears poised to take advantage of a shift in the politics of healthcare.
“It’s a different time and it’s a time of tremendous opportunity in healthcare,” he said. “Whereas the Obama years were against a backdrop of tough politics and a (healthcare) law that still had to earn its stripes, he enters with a proven and popular law, an issue that won for the Democrats.”
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