US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced plans to expand access to health care by proposing changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to allow millions more American families to enroll in health care plans. health insurance and get tax credits to offset the cost.
“When the rule proposed today is finalized, starting next year, working families will get the help they need to afford full family coverage – all family members,” said Biden in a speech at the White House before signing an executive order to improve access to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.
Biden was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama, who in March 2010 signed the ACA, the sweeping health care law known as Obamacare.
It was Obama’s first return visit to the White House since he left office in 2017 after two terms with Biden as vice president.
“Joe Biden and I have done a lot,” Obama said. “But nothing has made me prouder than providing better health care and more protections to millions of people across this country.”
5 million people affected
The proposed change to the ACA rules would address the so-called family problem, where, under current regulations, family members of a person who purchases health cover through an employer are not eligible for a premium tax credit even though they need it to afford coverage. The glitch affects about 5 million people, according to the White House.
The proposed change applies to people in households that spend more than 10% of their income on health insurance. According to a senior administration official who briefed reporters, this would allow 200,000 uninsured people to be covered and reduce premiums for a million others.
The House Ways and Means Committee’s Republican lead, Rep. Kevin Brady, slammed the move and accused Biden of abusing executive orders that drop language from “the very law he claims he wants to rely on.” .
“He even ignores the last 12 years, during which the Obama-Biden administration made it clear that it was illegal to take such actions,” Brady said in a tweet.
No universal health care
The United States is the only industrialized country that does not provide health care to all of its citizens. According to data from the US Census Bureau, 8.6% of people, or 28 million, did not have health insurance at any time in 2020.
The country’s health care is provided by a public-private system, with about 65% of Americans covered by private health insurance and the rest relying on public coverage, including Medicare and Medicaid.
“It’s a country that’s very private sector, employer, and employer providing benefits,” Bill Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, told VOA.
Hoagland said many Americans are also wary of too much government involvement and worry that government-run health care is ineffective or inadequate.
About 55% of Americans support the ACA, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Disparities in health care
The poor and people of color are more likely to be uninsured, and many health and health care disparities remain entrenched.
“We are the richest country in the world and yet some of our citizens have the worst health,” Dr. Rachel Villanueva, president of the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest organization representing people, told VOA. African American doctors. “Lack of access to health care is a leading cause of health disparities for people of color. Increasing access to health care would help people achieve their optimal health and reduce racial and social inequalities that disproportionately affect our communities.”
Since Biden took office, ACA registration and coverage has been at an all-time high. The law dramatically reduced the number of uninsured, which once stood at 46.5 million. This came despite repeated attempts by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to dismantle the law, including efforts to curb enrollment opportunities and cut subsidies to insurance companies.
The administration has taken steps to boost participation by opening a special enrollment period for people to receive healthcare coverage during the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, millions of uninsured Americans still face the choice of financial ruin or lack of the health care they need as they grapple with medical bills.