KHN’s “What the Health?”: The Long Road to Winding Trump’s Health Policy

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Thursday was “Health Day” in President Joe Biden’s sprint to inaugurate his presidency, and he signed two by-laws that addressed health insurance and women’s reproductive rights. The orders resume registration under the Affordable Care Act from February to May and reverse what is known as the Mexico City Policy, which limits funding to international health groups who practice or support the right to abortion.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration said it was on the verge of purchasing a sufficient dose of a covid vaccine for every American 16 and over, but Congress is still working on organizational details and has not yet decided how to proceed with the president’s proposal for assistance should.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen from Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire from CQ Roll Call, and Shefali Luthra from The 19th.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • It’s unclear how many people will take advantage of the new ACA registration period on, but Biden’s decision to reopen the market is an attempt to draw a comparison between his priorities and those of the Trump administration, which refused to reopen the exchange after the pandemic hit last year.
  • The 12-week special open enrollment period set up by the Biden administration is twice as long as the regular enrollment period last fall and takes place during the tax season. Many ACA advocates suggested signing up years ago when people were paying their taxes and potentially getting refunds to pay their premiums.
  • The administration is feeling tight deadlines deciding how to deal with the Trump administration’s job requirements for some adults enrolled at Medicaid. If officials want to make a change to their policies, they may need to put it into effect before the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case where work requirements are in question.
  • While Xavier Becerra’s appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Capitol Hill appears to be of no urgency, it could have Republican support as the Senators likely know him from his long tenure in the US House of Representatives.
  • It is noteworthy that Biden has not yet nominated anyone to lead the centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an important part of HHS. There has been tension between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Director Seema Verma during the Trump administration, and the Biden administration is likely trying to see to it that this does not happen again.
  • Democrats, concerned that Biden’s proposal for a new Covid stimulus package may not be supported by either party, are preparing efforts to get parts of the package through a special Congressional maneuver known as budget balancing, which only requires a majority vote and no filibuster is subject to the Senate.
  • One aspect of vaccine distribution that has been sorely lacking is a strong messaging campaign about the benefits of a shot. National celebrities, as well as leaders and local officials trusted by the public, are required to speak.

For added recognition, panellists also recommend their favorite health stories of the week, which they think you should also read:

Julie Rovner: Stat’s “But I Never Smoked”: A Growing Proportion of Lung Cancer Cases Occur in an Unexpected Population “by Sharon Begley

Joanne Kenen: Casey Cep’s The Blackwell Sisters and the Harrowing History of Modern Medicine, New York

Shefali Luthra: The “undocumented women” from the 19th century are among the hardest hit by COVID. Your vaccination will be difficult, ”said Shefali Luthra and Chabeli Carrazana

Mary Ellen McIntire: The New York Times “Biden vows to reopen schools quickly. It won’t be easy ”by Dana Goldstein

To hear all of our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify or Pocket Casts.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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