The Biden-Harris Administration has been making it easier for people to receive the health care they need. This is a huge change from the Trump-Pence Administration, that greatly restricted access to health care.
This blog post is a timeline that covers health care starting on Inauguration Day. It includes federal and state regulations and decisions about health care, and calls from health-related organizations for more to be done. It also includes some of the harmful decisions made by Republicans.
January 20, 2021 – January 30, 2021
January 20, 2021: NARAL Pro-Choice America posted a press release titled: “NARAL Pro-Choice America Looks Forward to Working With the Biden-Harris Administration to Advance Reproductive Freedom”. From the press release:
Today, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in – providing a critical opportunity to protect and expand reproductive freedom as we work to undo the damage the Trump administration has done to our fundamental rights. With the help of NARAL members and our organization’s largest-ever electoral program, voters turned out in historic numbers to make their voices heard and send President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to the White House, electing a ticket that has vowed to fight for reproductive freedom…
…As we turn the page on four years of unyielding attacks on our rights and freedoms we must remain vigilant as threats persist, working on the federal and state level to protect and expand reproductive freedom whenever possible. It’s critical that the Biden-Harris administration demonstrate its commitment to protecting and expanding access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare – including abortion care – and upholding sexual and reproductive rights in the United States and around the world by:
- Expanding access to reproductive healthcare by removing harmful and medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion care during COVID-19;
- Initiating a comprehensive FDA review of medication abortion – a safe, effective, FDA-approved option for ending an early pregnancy – so that people’s access to care reflects science, not politics;
- Rescinding Trump’s executive actions limiting access to care, including the dangerous global gag rule, the domestic gag rule and attacks on comprehensive coverage;
- Ensuring that the president’s budget advances reproductive freedom and excludes discriminatory restrictions on abortion coverage; and
- Nominating and appointing judges and executive branch officials with positive records on reproductive freedom, health, rights, and justice.
On the campaign trail, President-elect Biden outlined his commitment to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom by vowing to work to safeguard Roe v. Wade, only appoint judges who will respect Roe, support the repeal of racist and discriminatory Hyde Amendment, and use executive action to protect and expand access to abortion and contraception, including reversing Trump’s global and domestic gag rules.
The Biden-Harris administration heads the White House at a critical time in the fight for reproductive freedom. Thanks to the Trump administration stacking the court with judges hostile to reproductive freedom, our fundamental rights are in peril. Anti-choice politicians remain determined to criminalize abortion – putting the advancement of their political goals above the health and well-being of the American people. Just before Election Day, Donald Trump and Senate Republicans jammed through the confirmation of Amy Barrett, a judge with a record of hostility towards the legal right to abortion, to the Supreme Court.
Barrett’s presence on the Court solidifies an anti-choice supermajority on the bench that could threaten our fundamental rights for decades. Dozens of cases that put Roe and access to abortion care at risk are making their way to the Supreme Court. Last week, Justice Barrett and the anti-choice majority on the bench once again demonstrated their hostility towards reproductive freedom when they ruled to reinstate a restriction forcing people to travel to a health center to access medication abortion during the still raging COVID-19 pandemic.
January 20, 2021: President Biden issued a executive order titled: “Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing”. From the executive order:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 7902(c) of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures. Such measures include wearing masks when around others, physical distancing, and other related precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Put simply, masks and other public health measures reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when communities make widespread use of such measures, and thus save lives.
Accordingly, to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty on or-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.
Sec. 2. Immediate Action Regarding Federal Employees, Contractors, Buildings, and Lands. (a) The heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall immediately take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to require compliance with CDC guidelines with respect to wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and other public health measures by: on-duty or on-site Federal employees; Federal contractors; and all persons in Federal buildings or on Federal lands.
(b) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Administrator of General Services, in coordination with the President’s Management Council and the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President (COVID-10 Response Coordinator), shall promptly issue guidance to assist heads of agencies with implementation of this section….
Sec. 3. Encouraging Masking Across America. (a) The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), including through the Director of the CDC, shall engage, as appropriate, with State, local, Tribal, and territorial officials, as well as business, union, academic and other community leaders, regarding mask-wearing and other public health measures, with the goal of maximizing public compliance with, and addressing any obstacles to, mask-wearing and other public health best practices identified by CDC…
…Section 5. Federal Employee Testing. The Secretary of HHS through the Director of the CDC, shall promptly develop and submit to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator a testing plan for the Federal workforce. This plan shall be based on community transmission metrics and address the populations to be tested, testing types, frequency of testing, positive case protocols, and coordination with local public health authorities for contact tracing…
January 20, 2021: American Medical Association (AMA) posted a press release titled: “AMA applauds Biden Administration on first-day executive actions”. From the press release:
The American Medical Association (AMA) today applauded the Biden Administration’s first-day actions that tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, re-engage with the World Health Organization (WHO), and advance racial equity, among other policies. The executive orders, memoranda, and other actions are the first steps on issues critical to improving the health of the nation.
Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic
- Launching a “100 Days Masking Challenge”
- Re-engaging with the WHO
- Coordinating a unified federal response to COVID-19
“Defeating COVID-19 requires bold, coordinated federal leadership and strong adherence to the public health steps we know stop the spread of this virus – wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and washing hands,” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “We are pleased by the Biden Administration’s steps today, including universal mask wearing within federal jurisdictions, providing federal leadership for COVID-19.”
Rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change
“Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement is a critical step to demonstrate American leadership in the prevention of the devastating health harms of climate change,” Dr. Bailey said. “Climate change has massive public health implications, with disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and the poor. We are encouraged by today’s action by the Biden Administration to rejoin the world community in this monumental global effort.”
- Rescinding the exclusion of undocumented aliens from the census
- Preserving and fortifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
- Rescinding the immigration ban on Muslim countries
“The AMA strongly opposed the previous administration’s efforts to rescind DACA and was part of the successful Supreme Court case overturning that decision,” said Dr. Bailey. “Today, thousands of Dreamers are working in, or training to join, health care professions and our country is in need of their services in the fight against COVID-19. Giving Dreamers certainty about their legal status is a critical step in the right direction by the Biden Administration. People with DACA status contribute to a diverse and culturally responsive physician workforce, which benefits all patients.”
Prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation
“The AMA believes that LGBTQ+ individuals must be protected from workplace discrimination in order to prevent negative health outcomes,” said Dr. Bailey. “We were proud to join 15 other leading health organizations in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the recent Title VII case, and we are encouraged by today’s action by the Biden Administration to ensure equality. The AMA supports access to quality, evidence-based health care for all people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and we will continue to work diligently at all levels to expand access to health care, reduce stigma in treating patients with unique needs, and break down discriminatory barriers to care.”
January 20, 2021: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Democrat – California) posted a press release titled: “Dear Colleague on President Biden’s Day One Executive Actions”. From the press release:
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Today, when President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office, it was a breath of fresh air for our democracy, for American and for our future. Happily, today, Senator Chuck Schumer became the Majority Leader of the Senate.
Now, our Democratic House Majority will work to deliver progress For the People – to honor Joe Biden’s promise that “Help is On the Way.” Working with the Biden-Harris Administration and the new Democratic Majority in the Senate, we will ensure that our nation will recover from the coronavirus and economic crisis. And we will Build Back Better in a way that will advance justice, equality and progress for all Americans.
We must get to work immediately – which is why I am pleased to support President Biden’s Day One Executive Actions to meet the needs of the American people, which will start by addressing the coronavirus. These Executive Actions will:
- Crush the coronavirus: by launching a unified, all-of-government response to increase mask-wearing and other science-based steps to stop the virus’s spread. It also takes specific action to address the disproportionate impact on communities of color, while recognizing the importance of re-engaging with the international community.
- Deliver urgent economic relief: by extending moratoriums on evictions, foreclosures and student loan payments.
- Combat the climate crisis: by rejoining the historic Paris Climate Agreement and rolling back Trump’s special interest, dirty energy Executive Actions.
- Honor our nation’s diverse heritage: by protecting Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients, rescinding the Muslim ban and taking bold action to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
- Advance racial equality: by launching a whole-of-government initiative to promote racial equity…
January 21, 2021: Center for Reproductive Rights posted a statement titled: “CEO Nancy Northup’s Statement on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., as the 46th President of the United States”. From the statement:
Today’s inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th president of the United States presents an urgent opportunity to put human needs and human rights at the center of a new U.S. domestic and foreign policy. It is also a barrier-breaking day, as Vice-President Kamala Harris becomes the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to hold the office.
The urgency of this moment is abundantly clear. People are suffering and dying of COVID-19, the U.S. economy is in turmoil, and armed insurrectionists bearing racist symbols stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago. The opportunity is now to roll-back the harms of the past four years and move forward with the vision of reproductive rights for all. President Biden ran on a platform that embraced America’s diversity as its greatest strength, promised to address human rights wherever they are under threat, and committed to protect and advance reproductive health, rights, and justice.
We urge President Biden to take quick and decisive action to reverse the Trump administration’s harmful policies and to move forward on this critical agenda.
Specifically, we call on the new administration to:
Promote the health and well-being of women and girls in U.S. foreign policy:
- Rescind the Global Gag Rule: This policy bans federal funding to international healthcare providers if they provide counsel or advocate for abortion access, even when they use a separate funding source to do so.
- Restore reporting on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights.
- Restore funding to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and rejoin and restore funding to the World Health Organization (WHO). UNFPA is the lead U.N. agency focused on sexual and reproductive health. The WHO coordinates high-impact research and sets global standards on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
- Stop wrongly implementing the Helms Amendment while pushing for its Congressional repeal: For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment barred U.S. foreign aid from being used for abortion services “as a method of family planning”. Prior administrations have wrongly treated this as a total ban on abortion care, even in cases of rape, incest, or the endangerment of life or health.
- Rescind Trump Era Regulations, including the Domestic Gag Rule, which prohibits clinics receiving Title X family planning funds from referring patients for abortion services, regulations that allow health care workers to deny reproductive health services and information, and regulations that allow employers and universities to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees and students.
- Promote reproductive health policies guided by science, not ideology: The FDA should take the same approach to allowing access to medication abortion by telemedicne, in line with its approach to other drugs.
- Support policies to end racial disparities in maternal health care by launching an interagency task force on maternal care, promoting expansion of Medicaid coverage to at least one year postpartum, and championing passage of the Black Maternal Health Momibus Act.
In addition to taking these actions that are within the power of the executive branch, we also call on President Biden to champion legislation to address the abortion access crisis. Since 2011, states have enacted over 500 restrictions on abortion access. These come on top of policies that deny insurance coverage for abortion to those who receive their health insurance from the federal government, including Medicaid. Restrictions on abortion access and coverage have fallen disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, and people of color, people living on low incomes, and young people. Congress must address the abortion access crisis and long-standing injustice of the Hyde Amendment by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Woman Act.
As the Biden administration combats the devastating coronavirus pandemic, it must also move forward to advance reproductive rights because the need for access to the full range of reproductive healthcare – including contraception, maternal health care, and abortion care – does not abate in a pandemic…
January 21, 2021: The White House posted an executive order titled: “Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery”. From the executive order:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to address the disproportionate and severe impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on communities of color and other underserved populations, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated severe and pervasive health and social inequities in America. For instance, people of color experience systemic and structural racism in many facets of our society and are more likely to become sick and die from COVID-19. The lack of complete data, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, on COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and mortality rates, as well as underlying health and social vulnerabilities, has further hampered efforts to ensure an equitable pandemic response. Other communities, often obscured in the data, are also disproportionatley affected by COVID-19, including sexual and gender minority groups, those living with disabilities, and those living at the margins of our economy. Observed inequities in rural and Tribal communities, territories, and other geographically isolated communities require a place-based approach to data collection and the response. Despite increased State and local efforts to address these inequities, COVID-19’s disparate impact on communities of color and other underserved populations remain unrelenting.
Addressing this devastating toll is both a moral imperative and pragmatic policy. it is impossible to change the course of the pandemic without tackling it in the hardest-hit communities. In order to identify and eliminate health and social inequities resulting in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, and death, I am directing a Government-wide effort to address health equity. The Federal Government must take swift action to prevent and remedy differences in COVID-19 care and outcomes within communities of color and other underserved populations.
Sec. 2 COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. There is established within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force (Task Force).
(a) Membership. The Task Force shall consist of the Secretary of HHS; an individual designated by the by the Secretary of the HHS to Chair the Task Force (COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair); the heads of such other executive departments, agencies, or offices (agencies) as the Chair may invite, and up to 20 members from sectors outside the Federal Government appointed by the President…
…Mission and Work.
(i) Consistent with applicable law and as soon as practicable, the Task Force shall provide specific recommendations to the President, through the Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President (COVID-19 Response Coordinator), for mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future….
January 21, 2021: The White House posted an executive order titled: “Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety”. From the executive order:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. Healthcare workers and other essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is the policy of my Administration to protect the health and safety of workers from COVID-19.
The Federal Government must take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. That will require issuing science-based guidance to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure, including with respect to mask-wearing; partnering with State and local governments to better protect public employees; enforcing worker health and safety requirements; and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees.
Section 2. Protecting Workers from COVID-19 Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, in furtherance of the policy described in section 1 of this order and consistent with applicable law, shall:
(a) issue, within 2 weeks of the date of this order and in conjunction or consultation with the heads of any other appropriate executive departments and agencies (agencies), revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic;
(b) consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19, including with respect to masks in the workplace, are necessary, and if such standards are determined to be necessary, issue them by March 15, 2021;
(c) review the enforcement efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related to COVID-19 and identify any short-, medium-, and long-term changes that could be made to better protect workers and ensure equity in enforcement;
(d) launch a national program to focus OSHA enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 on violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk or are contrary to anti-retaliation principles; and
(e) coordinate with the Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs and Office of Public Engagement and all regional OSHA offices to conduct, consistent with applicable law, a multilingual outreach campaign to inform workers and their representatives of their rights under applicable law. This campaign shall include engagement with labor unions, community organizations, and industries, and place a special emphasis on communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
Sec. 3. Protecting Other Categories of Workers from COVID-19. (a) The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health consistent with applicable law, shall:
(i) coordinate with States that have occupational safety and health plans approved under section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) (29. U.S.C. 667) to seek to ensure that workers covered by such plans are adequately protected from COVID-19, consistent with any revised guidance or emergency temporary standards by OSHA; and
(ii) in States that do not have such plans, consult with State and local government entities with responsibility for public employee safety and health and with public employee unions to bolster protection from COVID-19 for public sector workers.
(b) The Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the heads of other appropriate agencies, shall, consistent with applicable law, explore mechanisms to protect workers not protected under the Act so that they remain healthy and safe on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(c) The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, shall consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 applicable to coal and metal or non-metal mines are necessary, and if such standards are determined to be necessary and consistent with applicable law, issue them as soon as practicable…
January 21, 2021: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center For Children and Families posted a blog titled: “The Tennessee Waiver: Block Grant, Aggregate Cap, or Windfall?” It was written by Andy Schnieder and Allexa Gardner. From the blog post:
…Since its enactment in 1965, Medicaid has guaranteed federal funding to participating states for the costs of health and long-term care services to low-income children, adults, individuals with disabilities, and the elderly. State spending on covered services for eligible individuals is matches by the federal government on an open-ended basis at an average rate of 65 percent. The more that states have to spend in order to meet the needs of their low-income residents, the more the federal government will match those state expenditures. This open-ended matching is particularly important during times of natural disasters or public health emergencies (think pandemic). Of course, if there is no state spending, then by definition there is no federal matching.
TennCare III jettisons this arrangement…
…The federal government will continue to match Tennessee’s Medicaid spending at its regular matching rate but only up to a fixed amount each year, for each of the next 10 years. That amount – let’s call it a cap – can be adjusted up (or down) if enrollment grows (or declines) more than 1 percent. The per enrollee spending amounts used to make this adjustment grow at a generous rate of over 5 percent annually for the first five years; after that, both the caps and the adjustment amounts will be renegotiated, creating significant uncertainty for state policymakers, providers, and beneficiaries.
Capping federal Medicaid spending had been former Administrator Verma’s North Star. Early in her tenure, she set forth her vision in a speech to state Medicaid directors. She strongly supported the Trump Administration’s 2017 effort to enact a Medicaid cap, which fell short of Senate passage by one vote. Having failed to change the Medicaid statute through the legislative process, former Administrator Verma had been trying since early 2018 to rewrite it by Executive Branch fiat, her calls for humility in government to the contrary notwithstanding. In Tennessee, she finally found a willing partner…
…The former Administrator’s ideological fixation on capping Medicaid spending is crystal clear. But why would a state with among the highest rates of uninsurance and rural hospital closures in the nation decide to let the federal government dump the risk of increases in health and long-term care costs in the middle of a pandemic – much less lock itself into a a 10-year limit on federal funds knowing that medical care inflation is completely unconstrained?
In a nutshell: free federal finds. Under the demonstration, if Tennessee spends less during a year than the cap for that year, it gets to keep 55 percent of the federal share of “savings” – without spending a dime of its own money…
…Medicaid is a federal-state matching program. If a state spends its own funds on behalf of an eligible individual for a covered service, the federal government matches that expenditure. But there has to be a state expenditure. If a state doesn’t spend money purchasing covered services on behalf of Medicaid beneficiaries, the federal government doesn’t pay any matching funds. Both the state and the federal government save, in proportion to their regular federal-state shares. Under TennCare III, the state will be able to draw down federal matching dollars even though it has not made an expenditure of its own funds…
…There is, of course, a legal way to improve the health of low-income Tennesseans and their communities. It’s called Medicaid expansion. And it comes with a statutory 90 percent federal matching rate, considerably more generous than Tennessee’s regular 66 percent matching rate. If Tennessee took up Medicaid expansion, there would be less need to refinance Community and Faith-based clinics for the uninsured, because there would be 260,000 fewer uninsured Tennesseans.
January 22, 2021: The White House posted a statement titled: “Statement from President Biden and Vice President Harris on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade”. From the statement:
Today marks the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.
In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care – including reproductive care – regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe. We are also committed to ensuring that we work to eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception, and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity. This commitment extends to our critical work on health outcomes around the world.
As the Biden-Harris Administration begins in this critical moment, now is the time to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all individuals have access to the health care they need.
January 22, 2021: Planned Parenthood posted a press release titled: “Planned Parenthood Celebrates 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Calls for Further Action”. From the press release:
Today, on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood Federation of America commemorates this important milestone and calls for robust action to protect and expand abortion access nationwide.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Today marks 48 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which established the legal right to an abortion. Yet, nearly half a century later, abortion is a right in name only for millions of people across the country. As reproductive justice organizations have said for years, Roe is the floor, not the ceiling. Without access to abortion, this right is meaningless. Now is the time for President Biden and our elected officials in states across the country to take necessary and immediate action to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, income, or ZIP code, has access to safe and legal abortion…
January 22, 2021: NARAL Pro-Choice America posted a press release titled: “NARAL Pro-Choice America Releases Statement on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade”. From the press release:
On the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue issued the following statement:
“We celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade at a pivotal moment in the fight for reproductive freedom. The landmark decision and the legal right to abortion are on the line like never before, thanks to the efforts of anti-choice state lawmakers trying to chip away at abortion access at every turn, and Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s work to stack the court with judges hostile to our fundamental rights.
We must work together to ensure that reproductive freedom is a reality for every body – no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make. For 48 years, Roe has been a vital part of keeping us on the path to realizing this vision for our future.
The Biden-Harris administration embodies a new and welcome era of leadership – one that has committed to taking bold action to safeguard reproductive freedom and connected reproductive rights to the fight for justice and equity. As we work to undo the damage done by Trump and anti-choice politicians, we must carry the guiding principle that Roe is the floor, not the ceiling for the vision we espouse for this country. Fighting to ensure abortion remains legal is critical, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
NARAL and our more than 2.5 million members across the country will not stop fighting until every body is free to make their own decisions about pregnancy and parenting, free from political interference.”
Any day, the Supreme Court could decide to review a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade and violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent. If Roe fell tomorrow, 24 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. Ten states already have “trigger bans” in place, which would ban abortion immediately if Roe is overturned. If Roe is rolled back and states are able to ban abortion, the consequences would be devastating. Scenarios about punishing and interrogating pregnant people and healthcare providers aren’t far fetched – they’re already happening. Pregnant people across the country are already charged or prosecuted for experiencing pregnancy loss, for struggling with substance use during pregnancy, for self-managing abortion care, or even a suspicion of it. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); those in rural areas; and those with low incomes are disproportionately the focus of these cruel overreaches.
Despite the anti-choice movement’s relentless efforts to overturn Roe and criminalize abortion, they are widely out of touch with the values of the majority. Across the United States, the vast majority of people believe that abortion should be legal. Polling shows that 77% of Americans support Roe, and there is no state in the country where banning abortion is popular.
January 22, 2021: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) posted a news release titled: “ACOG Statement on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade”. From the news release:
The following is a quote from Eva Chalas, MD, FACOG, FACS, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):
“Forty-eight years ago this week, the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. As we reflect on the anniversary of this historic case, it is also imperative to reflect on the future. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports the availability of high-quality reproductive health services for all patients. Today and every day, ACOG reaffirms our commitment to ensuring our members can practice evidence-based medicine free from political interference, intimidation, and threat of criminal penalties, and that their patients can access the full range of essential reproductive health care.”
January 22, 2021: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Democrat – California) posted a press release titled: “Pelosi Statement on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade”. From the press release:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement marking the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
“For 48 years, Roe v. Wade has been a cornerstone of health and equal rights for all American women. This landmark decision protects a woman’s fundamental right to make her own reproductive health decisions.
“Nearly half a century later, Roe v. Wade is settled law. Yet, due to relentless Republican attacks in states across the country, it is hanging on by a thread, threatening to drag American women back to a dark, dangerous and deadly past. These harmful attacks challenge our nation’s bedrock values and significantly undermine women’s health and economic security, particularly women of color and those in low-income communities. But with the tireless voices and activism of women across the country, these Republican efforts must continue to fail.
“Our new, unified Democratic government will continue working to strengthen women’s comprehensive health care, to reduce unintended pregnancies, to lower maternal and infant mortality and to safeguard every woman’s personal right to decide when and how to start a family. On this anniversary, we renew our commitment to build on the legacy of Roe v. Wade so that we can protect a woman’s right to choose and defend women’s hard-won freedoms, now and always.”
January 22, 2021: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) titled: “Vaccination Coverage with Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten – United States, 2019-20 School Year”. From the summary of the report:
What is already known about this topic?
State immunization programs conduct annual kindergarten vaccination assessments to monitor school-entry vaccination coverage with all state-required vaccines.
What is added by this report?
For the 2019-20 school year, national coverage was approximately 95% for diptheria and tetanus toxiods, and acellular pertussis; measles, mumps and rubella; and varicella vaccines. The national exemption rate remained low at 2.5%
What are the implications for public health practice?
Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to reduce vaccination coverage in the 2020-2021 school year. Increased follow-up of undervaccinated students is needed from schools and immunization programs to maintain the high vaccination coverage necessary to protect students in preparation for schools returning to in-person learning.
January 22, 2021: National Women’s Law Center posted a resource titled: “The Equality Act of 2021: Expanding Antidiscrimination Protections for LGBTQ People and Women”. From the resource:
While the Supreme Court’s marriage decision in 2015 and workplace rights decision in 2020 expanded explicit protections for LGBTQ people, there is still much to be done to ensure equal treatment under the law. Federal law and the majority of states lack explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, at school, and elsewhere, leaving many open to discrimination.
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other key federal nondiscrimination laws to provide clear, explicit protections clarifying that the prohibitions against sex discrimination include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These protections would apply in the context of housing, public accommodations, credit, federally funded programs (including education), and federal jury service. In line with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock, the Equality Act would make clear that discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in all of these settings is unlawful.
The protections the Equality Act would provide are vital for LGBTQ individuals across many areas of their lives. For example, 8% of LGBTQ individuals and 29% of transgender individuals reported that healthcare professionals refused to see them based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Further, nearly one quarter of transgender respondents said they did not seek necessary healthcare for fear they would be mistreated based on their trans identity.
As a further example, transgender women of color also face pervasive housing discrimination – with 31% of Black transgender women and 27% of Native transgender women reporting being denied a home or apartment in the past year because they were transgender.
The Equality Act would also close longstanding gaps in federal law and for the first time prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in public spaces, services, and all federally funded activities, providing important new legal protections for women and LGBTQ individuals. Finally, the Act would expand the scope of what kinds of entities count as a place of public accommodation, thereby creating new protected entities including race and national origin.
January 24, 2021: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families posted a blog titled: “Biden Administration Promises Predictability on Future Extensions of the Public Health Emergency”. It was written by Tricia Brooks. From the blog:
In a recent letter to Governors, Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran signaled that the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) “will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021.” Moreover, the letter assures states that when a determination is made to terminate the PHE or let it expire. HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice. By law, a PHE is limited to a 90-day period but it can be terminated early or extended. The Biden Administration’s announcement is a big deal because our nation’s public health response to the pandemic, as well as efforts to support families and shore up the economy, are inextricably linked to PHE.
Enhanced federal funding for Medicaid would continue through March 2022.
For state budgets, the announcement provides greater certainty of the 6.2 percentage point increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) until the end of the quarter in which the PHE expires or is terminated. If extended through the entirety of 2021, the earliest the PHE would expire would be January 16, 2022, meaning states can count on the FMAP bump through March 2022 (three-quarters of most states’ fiscal years.)
Continuous enrollment in Medicaid would continue through January 2022.
To claim the enhanced match, states must continue to meet the conditions of the maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. Importantly, the MOE protects Medicaid enrollees with continuous coverage until the end of the PHE and prohibits states from rolling back eligibility or imposing new administrative barriers to enrollment. Initially, HHS issued guidance in the form of FAQs that also disallowed states from reducing benefits or increasing cost-sharing. But those protections were shattered when HHS rammed through an interim final rule in early November, reversing aspects of its prior guidance without going through the rulemaking process that incorporates public comment before finalizing a new regulation…
January 25, 2021: President Biden posted a Presidential Action titled: “Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform”. From the Presidential Action:
By the authority vested in me as President of the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States (“Armed Forces”) should be able to serve. The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.
It is my conviction as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces that gender identity should not be a bar to military service. Moreover, there is substantial evidence that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military does not have any meaningful negative impact on the Armed Forces. To that end, in 2016, a meticulous, comprehensive study requested by the Department of Defense found that enabling transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States military would have only a minimal impact of military readiness and healthcare costs. The study also concluded that open transgender service has had no significant impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.
On the basis of this information, the Secretary of Defense concluded in 2016 that permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity, such that transgender service members who could meet the required standards and procedures should be permitted to serve openly. The Secretary of Defense also concluded that it was appropriate to create a process that would enable service members to take steps to transition gender while serving.
The previous administration chose to alter that policy to bar transgender persons, in almost all circumstances, from joining the Armed Forces and from being able to take steps to transition gender while serving. Rather than relying on the comprehensive study by a nonpartisan federally funded research center, the previous administration relied on a review that resulted in a policy that set unnecessary barriers to military service. It is my judgment that the Secretary of Defense’s 2016 conclusions remain valid, as further demonstrated by the fact that, in 2018, then-service Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corp, and Chief of Staff of the Air Force all testified publicly to the Congress that they were not aware of any issues of unit cohesion, disciplinary problems, or issues of morale resulting from open transgender service.
A group of former Unites States Surgeons General, who collectively served under Democratic and Republican Presidents, echoed this point, stating in 2018 that “transgender troops are medically fit as their non-transgender peers and that there is no medically valid reason – including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – to exclude them from military service or to limit their access to medically necessary care.”
Therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.
Sec. 2. Revocation. The Presidential Memorandum of March 23, 2018 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), is hereby revoked, and the Presidential Memorandum of August 25, 2017 (Military Service by Transgender Individuals), remains revoked…
January 25, 2021: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi posted a press release titled: “Pelosi Statement on President Biden Executive Order Reversing Trump Transgender Service Ban”. From the press release:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on President Biden’s Executive Order directing agencies to reverse the Trump transgender military ban and immediately prohibit involuntary separations, discharges and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity:
“Today is a day of great hope and progress for thousands of heroes in our military and indeed for our entire country, as the Trump transgender ban is thrown into the trashbin of history. Led by President Biden, America is restoring our proud pledge: that no one with the strength and bravery to serve in the U.S. military should be turned away because of who they are.
“The Trump ban was a cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who have stepped forward to serve our country. The Biden-Harris Administration and Democratic Congress will continue to reverse this and other discriminatory actions that weaken our military readiness and betray our core American values.
“Democrats’ defense strategy will be dictated by the priorities of security, stability, peace and American values – not the hate and prejudice that defined the Trump presidency.”
January 26, 2021: Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) posted an article titled: “How Quickly We Need To Ramp Up Vaccinations To Get To Herd Immunity”. It was written by Drew Altman. From the article:
The country needs to ramp up vaccinations rapidly if we are to reach herd immunity by, say, July 4th our Independence Day, Labor Day, or even by the beginning of next year.
Some basic math and assumptions paint the picture:
We need to average 2.4 million doses a day starting now to reach the point where 70% of the population is vaccinated by July 4th (assuming two doses needed per person), There are many estimates out there of what’s needed for herd immunity, and that’s probably the bare minimum. It’s also harder than it sounds, because kids aren’t being vaccinated right now, so we need to reach the vast majority of adults, which means overcoming hesitancy where it exists.
It’s 1.9 million doses to reach it by Labor Day.
And 1.2 million doses per day if we achieve the goal by January 1, 2022…
…Last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1.6 million vaccinations were given across the U.S. and yesterday the Biden administration revised its goal to 1.5 million shots per day for the first 100 days. If the administration uses that time to begin putting measures in place such as mobile vaccination clinics, mass vaccination sites, more pharmacy-based vaccination and other steps described in the Biden strategy to replace the current broken vaccination non-system with one that works, it seems reasonable to expect a ramp up in the numbers of shots in arms after that. Increasing to two three milion vaccinations per day by late Spring or early Summer seems doable….
…the limited factor may be the supply of vaccine. That too seems somewhat hopeful with J+J/Jansen and then others from AstraZeneca and Novavax expected to come on line. And, the J&J vaccine is expected to be a single dose rather than two, so it would mean fewer overall doses are needed. Still, the biggest mystery remains what the supply of vaccine is expected to be and when new approved vaccines will be ready, even if everything breaks favorably.
January 26, 2021: Planned Parenthood posted a press release titled: “New Planned Parenthood Issue Brief Examines Social Health Needs Among Women of Reproductive Age”. From the press release:
Today, as the Biden-Harris administration announced “bold and ambitious steps to root out inequity,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America published “What About Her? – Assessing Social Determinants of Health Among Women of Reproductive Age,” an issue brief focused on the unique ways that women of reproductive age are affected by the social determinants of health (SDOH), those conditions of the environments in which people live, play, work, and age that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes…
…The brief’s key finding is that women of reproductive age report being very or somewhat comfortable discussing their SDOH-related needs within the health care setting, including with a primary care physician (PCP), a general practitioner, or a Planned Parenthood provider. In fact, women are just as comfortable discussing SDOH-related needs with a Planned Parenthood provider as discussing needs with a PCP or other general care provider…
…Notably, the “What About Her? brief found that two populations report greater comfort in discussing their SDOH-related needs with a Planned Parenthood provider:
- Women of color, as compared to white women; and
- Women with lower annual incomes, as compared to women with higher annual incomes. This is particularly true among women of reproductive age with annual incomes of less than $25,000 per year…
…Other important findings highlighted in the brief are:
- More than two-thirds of women of reproductive age say it is very or somewhat hard to pay for the very basics, such as food, medical care, housing, and heating.
- While the types of social needs among women of reproductive age varies, the most commonly reported areas of need for assistance are:
Having enough food for themselves or their family (23 percent); Utilities (17 percent); Transportation (17 percent); Employment or help finding a job (15 percent); Childcare (12 percent); and Housing/having a steady place to live (8 percent).
- Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women of reproductive age are more likely to report needing SDOH-related support in many areas:
Black women of reproductive age report the highest need for SDOH support in all surveyed areas except for intimate partner violence (IPV), where non-Hispanic white women report the highest rate of need for support.
Asian/Pacific Islander women of reproductive age report lower need for support with childcare and utilities, and are more likely than other women of color to report support needs related to IPV…
January 26, 2021: The White House posted a Fact Sheet titled: “Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces New Steps to Boost Vaccine Supply and Increase Transparency for States, Tribes, and Territories”. From the Fact Sheet:
Administration to Purchase Additional 200 Million Doses to Be Delivered This Summer
Just over a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States, the nation has hit another grim milestone in the pandemic, reaching 25 million infections and counting. The pace in which this virus has spread throughout the U.S. is staggering and with new variants emerging, the spread is not slowing any time soon. That’s why it is critical that we vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
President Biden has a comprehensive National Action Strategy to put the pandemic behind us and he and the COVID-19 response team are aggressively implementing it. Today, the President is announcing bold steps that will help meet the goal of administering 100 million shots in 100 days and ramp up vaccine supply as fast as possible. As a result of these actions, the federal government will have enough vaccine supply for the entire U.S. population by the end of the summer.
The President is taking the following actions today:
An Increase in Weekly Vaccine Supply to States, Tribes, and Territories: The Biden-Harris Administration will increase overall, weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes and territories from 8.6 million doses to a minimum of 10 million doses. This increase of 1.4 million doses per week will allow millions more Americans to get vaccinated sooner than previously anticipated. The Administration is committing to maintaining this as the minimum supply level for the next three weeks.
Increased transparency for States, Tribes, and Territories to Help Their Vaccination Efforts: The Biden-Harris Administration is taking action to provide states, Tribes and territories with a reliable three-week supply look-ahead. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide will provide allocation estimates for the upcoming three weeks as opposed to the one week look-ahead that they previously received. This increased transparency will give and local leaders greater certainty around the supply so that they can plan their vaccination efforts and administer vaccines effectively and efficiently.
Purchase 200 Million Additional Doses to be Delivered This Summer, Double the Nation’s Vaccine Supply: President Biden directed his COVID-19 Response Coordinator to work with HHS to increase our total vaccine supply for the American people. The Biden-Harris Administration is working to purchase an additional 100 million doses of each of the two Food and Drug Administration-authorized vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna. This increases the total vaccine order for the U.S. by 50%, from 400 million to 600 million with these additional doses expected to deliver this summer. With these additional doses, the U.S. will have enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of this summer.
January 27, 2021: Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) posted news titled: “Vaccine Monitor: Nearly half of the Public Wants to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine as Soon as They Can or Has Already Been Vaccinated, Up across Racial and Ethnic Groups Since December”. From the news:
Most Convincing Messages to Promote Vaccination Highlight Effectiveness at Preventing Illness and a Return to Normal Life; Hearing about Rare Allergic Reactions and Side Effects May Discourage Some.
New KFF Dashboard Features Key Data and Insights from the Vaccine Monitor
With millions of Americans getting their first COVID-19 vaccinations, the public’s eagerness to get a vaccine is rising across racial and ethnic groups, though Republicans and rural residents remain the most reluctant groups, the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor reports.
Based on a survey fielded just before President Biden took office, the latest Monitor report shows nearly half (47%) of the public want to get the vaccine as soon as they can or have already been vaccinated. That is significantly higher than the third (34%) of the public in the most-eager “as soon as possible” category in December.
An additional 31% say they want to “wait until it has been available for a while to see how it is working for others” before getting it themselves. One in five (20%) are more reluctant to get vaccinated, including 7% who say they will only get the vaccine “if required to do so for work, school, or other activities,” and 13% who say they will “definitely not” get it.
The share who have already been or want to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” is up among Black, Hispanic, and White adults, though White (53%) adults remain more likely than Black (35%) and Hispanic (42%) adults to say so. Black (43%) and Hispanic (37%) adults are more likely than White adults (26%) to say they want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated.
Similarly, there has been a shift toward greater enthusiasm for getting vaccinated across urban, suburban, and rural areas, though rural residents remain most hesitant. Democrats and Independents also show increased enthusiasm, though Republicans’ views are little changed since December.
The Monitor shows that Republican and rural residents are now the groups most likely to say they either definitely won’t get a vaccine or would only do so if required…
…About a third (32%) of health care workers – a priority group for getting vaccinated – say they have gotten at least their first dose of a vaccine, and a quarter (26%) want to get it as soon as possible. Another quarter (28%) want to wait and see before getting vaccinated, while small shares say they would only get it if required (5%) or definitely wont get it (36%)…
…Nearly half (47%) of the public now say that they have personally received at least one vaccine dose or know someone who has, though these experiences aren’t spread out evenly across groups. White adults (51%) are more likely than those who are Black (38%) or Hispanic (37%) to have either been vaccinated or know someone who has, and those with annual household incomes of at least $90,000 are almost twice as likely as those with incomes under $40,000 to say so (65% vs. 33%)…
…A third (34%) of those who have not yet been vaccinated have heard one of three inaccurate claims about the vaccine and either believe the misinformation or aren’t sure if it is true. For example, nearly one in five (19%) say that they have heard that the vaccine includes live COVID-19 virus and believe that it is true (8%) or that they heard that and aren’t sure if its true (11%). Small shares report the same about the vaccine causing infertility (3% believe, 9% aren’t sure) and about having to pay out-of-pocket to get the vaccine (4% believe, 8% aren’t sure)…
January 27, 2021: Planned Parenthood posted a press release titled: “100 Organizations Call for Swift Expansion of Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice by Biden Administration in Ad Published in Washington Post”. From the press release:
Today, the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, representing more than 199 bold, progressive organizations, published a full-page ad in the Washington Post highlighting top priorities for the Biden-Harris administration to swiftly expand access to sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. The ad highlights actions from the Blueprint First Priorities, which are among the most pressing needs to improve reproductive health, rights, and justice – including abortion access – in the U.S. and around the world…
The Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice includes the following information:
1 On day one, the president must issue an executive order unequivocally stating his commitment to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care, uphold sexual and reproductive rights, including abortion care, in the U.S. and around the world, and rescind or revoke prior executive actions limiting access to care. This executive order must:
- Clearly and explicitly state that the president is committed to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion; that everyone should be able to decide for themselves when, whether and how to start their families, the right to raise their families in a safe and healthy environment, free from government interference; that politicians have interfered with personal decision-making and bodily autonomy by passing harmful laws and regulations that restrict access to care both domestically and around the world; that these policies restriction access to care have fallen hardest on Black people, Indigenous people, and many more people of color; and that no one should be denied access to comprehensive reproductive health care; including abortion, because of how much money they make, where they live, the source of their insurance or health care, or the religious or personal beliefs of others;
- Revoke the January 23, 2017 Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy and clarify what is permitted under current law to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including foreign assistance for abortion, to the maximum extent allowed;
- Rescind Executive Order 13535 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Consistency with Longstanding Restrictions on the use of Federal Funds for Abortion;
- Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue guidance to lift the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone for the duration of the public health emergency, consistent with similar directives and waivers issued to reduce risk of COVID-19; and
- Direct all executive departments and agencies to rescind other harmful policies and regulations, and take proactive steps to protect care, including but not limited to those actions listed under sections 5 and 6.
2 Upon assuming office, the president must make a public statement that the U.S. will re-engage on a global scale to advance the health and rights of individuals worldwide, and take action to re-engage fully with the United Nations, including re-joining and re-funding the World Health Organization, and re-funding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency.
3 As a budget is a reflection of priorities, the president’s budget must demonstrate a commitment to sexual and reproductive health;
- That includes investing in the following domestic and international programs at the designated amounts:
At least $1.66 billion for global family planning and reproductive health programs, including $111 million for UNFPA;
Significant increased investments in the International Organizations and Programs account, and to vital global health programs, including for maternal, newborn, and child health, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (at least $5.5 billion), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (at least $1.56 billion), USAID HIV programs (at least $350 million);
At least double the National Institutes of Health and United States Agency for International Development funding available for the research and development of contraceptives and multipurpose prevention technologies;
$100 million to restore navigator funds and marketing funds to promote open enrollment, and remove anti-abortion language and policies from navigator program notices of funding opportunity;
$150 million for the Teen Pregnancy Program;
$150 million for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP);
$954 million for the Title X Family Planning Program;
$850 million for the Title V Maternal & Child Health Services Block Grant
$100 million for the CDC Safe Motherhood and Infant Health Initiative; and
$100 million for the Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies Initiative.
- End the Hyde Amendment and related restrictions, and ensure that everyone has abortion coverage, regardless of their income or source of insurance, and commit to veto legislation that extends, reiterates, or incorporates the Hyde Amendment and related restrictions, including annual appropriations bills;
- Eliminate the Weldon Amendment and commit to veto legislation that would expand it or make it permanent;
- Remove the Helms Amendment and commit to veto legislation that extends, reiterates, or incorporates the Helms Amendment;
- Modify the Siljander Amendment to prohibit the use of U.S. funds to lobby against abortion;
- Remove the Kemp-Kasten Amendment and replace it with a blanket prohibition on U.S. funding going to coercive activities in U.S. foreign assistance, in line with the ICPD;
- Eliminate unnecessary restrictions on the U.S. contribution to UNFPA, including the requirement to segregate the U.S. contribution, such that none of the U.S. contribution may be used for abortion, none of the U.S. contribution may be used in China, and the dollar-for-dollar withholding for any funding UNFPA provides to China;
- Eliminate the Livingston Amendment, which allows organizations that receive certain government grants to refuse to offer the full range of contraception based on their religious objections;
- Eliminate all funding for abstinence-only until marriage programs, including the Title V “Sexual Risk Avoidance Education” program.
4 As personnel is also a reflection of priorities, the president must nominate and appoint individuals for executive branch positions who are experts in their field, committed to the core mission of the agency, and possess a positive record on reproductive health, rights, and justice, and who will contribute to the diversity of the executive branch.
5 Upon assuming office, the president must immediately halt all non-final regulations that will limit access to reproductive health care, including abortion. Further, within forty-five days of assuming office, the administration must initiate the process of rescinding regulations below (including designating them in the respective agency unified agendas as being in the pipeline for repeal):
- Compliance with Statutory Program Integrity Requirements, otherwise known as the “Domestic Gag Rule,” decimating the evidence-based and historically bipartisan Title X family planning program, which previously served nearly 4 million people, the vast majority of whom (80%) have low or no incomes.
- Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventative Services Under the Affordable Care Act and Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventative Services under the Affordable Care Act, allowing virtually any employer or university to deny coverage for contraception in a drastic departure from previous regulations that ensured 61.4 million had coverage;
- Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs and Activities, Delegation of Authority, revising the regulations for the Section 1557 Health Care Rift Law to undermine the statute’s protections, including by providing a narrow interpretation of “sex discrimination” that excludes people from protections and that is in direct conflict with the recent Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v Clayton County;
- Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care, Delegation of Authority, otherwise known as the “Refusal of Care Rule,” unlawfully and dramatically expanding existing refusal laws to encourage heath care workers to deny care and information; the rule was vacated by several federal district courts in late 2019 and is currently on appeal in the 2nd and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals;
- Inadmissibility Based on Public Charge Grounds expanding and weaponizing the concept of “public charge” to discourage immigrants from accessing basic services and public programs;
- Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Program, excluding DACA recipients from benefits under the ACA, including tax credits, cost sharing, and the marketplaces; and
- Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity, imposing onerous and arbitrary requirements on insurance issuers that offer health plans that include abortion coverage on the ACA marketplace.
6 Within 90 days of assuming office, the president must institute the following changes in policy and practice including, where appropriate, issuing guidance:
- The FDA must review the REMS for mifepristone to determine whether a REMS remains necessary, or whether the goals and elements should be modified or removed from the approved strategy to best reflect scientific evidence and real-world use;
- The Department of Health and Human Services must protect patients’ choice of reproductive health care provider, in part by reinstating 2016 guidance reaffirming Medicaid’s free choice of provider provisions, and ensuring that states may not exclude qualified providers of reproductive health care from Medicaid for reasons unrelated to their qualifications, including their provision of abortion care;
- The Department of Health and Human Services must issue guidance on 1332 wavers aimed at improving access to health benefits and services. The guidance should be designed to encourage states to expand coverage for new populations (such as DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants) and to add benefit, and should affirm that waiver applications that do not comply with the four statutory guardrails of comparable services, affordability, number of people covered, and deficit neutrality will be denied;
- The administration must use every mechanism at its disposal to encourage states to extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage to at least 12 months postpartum, including by issuing guidance, while ensuring continued Maintenance of Effort (MOE);
- As part of a broader overhaul of the immigration detention system, including closure of all family detention centers and a significant reduction in detention overall, the Department of Homeland Security must issue a directive immediately prohibiting ICE and CBP from detaining any person during pregnancy or postpartum recovery, and medically vulnerable person, or a primary caregiver of a child, and requiring immediate release from detention of any person found to be pregnant or medically vulnerable;
- The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) must rescind a 2008 policy that requires ORR involvement in abortions and issue new guidance to ensure that all care facilities provide minors with timely, confidential access to family planning services, including pregnancy tests and comprehensive, non-directive information about and access to reproductive health services, such as abortion and contraception, including emergency contraception. It must also protect minors’ confidentiality and ensure their timely access to courts to seek judicial authorization for abortion, if needed;
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must issue guidance to state Medicaid programs that federal law does not mandate the use of Explanation of Benefits and initiate a public and private stakeholder effort to develop additional recommendations and guidance to balance the need for consumer protections with the need for confidentiality, especially when it comes to sensitive health services;
- Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator must make it clear that PEPFAR funds can be used to pay for contraceptive commodities to ensure individuals living with and at risk for HIV have access to a full range of voluntary contraception options and to make the promise of integrated HIV and family planning services a reality for countless more adolescent girls and young women;
- The State Department must champion sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in UN meetings and multilateral forums, including by adopting and advancing comprehensive definitions of SRHR and comprehensive sex education, promoting the inclusion of diverse civil society experts in multilateral forums and on official U.S. delegations, ensuring participants from around the world are granted visas to engage in convenings at UN headquarters, the Organization of American States, World Bank and other multilateral institutions located in the U.S., and prioritizing participating and serving on the Executive Board of UN Specialized Agencies related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including WHO, and encouraging the expansion of their programs and policies globally;
- The administration must establish an Interagency Taskforce and issue regulations to encourage the development of a culture of equity, dignity, respect, and empowerment in health care systems, whereby accountability mechanisms are encouraged and implemented across systems to address discriminatory care, disrespect, mistreatment, and abuse of pregnant individuals based on race, age, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), ability, immigration status, insurance coverage, perceived socioeconomic status, and other factors;
- The president must rescind and undo actions taken pursuant to Executive Order 13798 Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, which set the stage for expanding the use of religion to discriminate against people seeking reproductive health care, including the rules that allow employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees, and the creation of the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division which emboldens discrimination and refusals of care; and
- The Department of Justice must not investigate, arrest, or prosecute individuals under the federal criminal code for any act or omission for their own pregnancy, and must end its policies and practices that place people at risk of criminal charges for any act or omission with respect to their own pregnancy. Such acts or omissions include, but are not limited to: self-managing or attempting to self-manage an abortion; failing to seek medical help when they miscarry, have a stillbirth, or experience any pregnancy loss, no matter its cause; using substances, whether prescribed, over-the-counter, or criminalized, during pregnancy.
January 27, 2021: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) posted a joint statement titled: “ACOG and SMFM Joint Statement on WHO Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnant Individuals”. From the statement:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) are aware of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from pregnant individuals unless they are at high risk of exposure. ACOG and SMFM continue to stress that both COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who choose to receive the vaccine. ACOG’s and SMFM’s current guidance on the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant patients remains in place.
Despite efforts by ACOG and SMFM to advocate for their inclusion, clinical trials that informed the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the vaccines did not include pregnant individuals. However, preliminary developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) studies for both the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines are encouraging, with no safety signals reported. DART animal studies provide the first safety data to help inform the use of these vaccines in pregnancy until there are more data in this specific population. These studies do not indicate any adverse effects on female reproduction or fetal/embryonal development. ACOG and SMFM strongly urge manufacturers and federal agencies to collect and report data regarding the use of these vaccines in pregnancy.
Data have demonstrated that symptomatic pregnant individuals with COVID-19 are at increased risk of more severe illness and death compared with nonpregnant peers. Many pregnant individuals have medical conditions known to put them at further increased risk of severe illness and complications. Therefore, given clear evidence of the dangers of COVID-19 in pregnancy, an absence of data demonstrating adverse effects associated with the vaccine in pregnancy, and in the interest of patient autonomy, ACOG and SMFM recommend that pregnant individuals be free to make their own informed decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
This decision should consider a number of factors, including the available information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and consideration of a lack of data regarding the use of the vaccine during pregnancy. Additional considerations include the level of activity of the pandemic in the community, the potential efficacy of the vaccine, and the potential risk and severity of maternal disease. While pregnant individuals are encouraged to discuss vaccination considerations with their clinical care team when feasible, documentation of such a discussion should not be required prior to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
As physicians who care for pregnant individuals, and as vaccine rollout expands to other eligible populations, ACOG and SMFM continue to firmly assert that pregnant individuals should be given the opportunity to make their own decision as to whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and that barriers should not be put in place to prevent access and hinder the ability of pregnant people to protect themselves from a virus that could potentially be life-threatening.
January 27, 2021: National Women’s Law Center posted a resource titled “100 Wins, 100 Days: Decisive Actions to Advance Gender Justice”. (For the purpose of this blog post, I will highlight the portions that focuse on health and/or health care.) From the resource:
The first 100 days of a new administration are critical. Against the back drop of a country plagued by the COVID-19 crisis, under attack by white supremacists, and reeling from the after effects of a hostile Trump administration, we spent the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration fighting to redefine what it means to be safe, to enshrine dignity in our policies and laws, and to advance gender equality for all…
…For Health Care:
- Show a commitment to protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care, including abortion. (IN PROGRESS)
- Rescind the Trump administration rule allowing a range of health care personnel, including receptionists and ambulance drivers, to refuse to help people seeking care, including abortion and sterilization.
- Issue new rulemaking that rescinds and replaces the Trump administration rules that allow virtually any employer or university to deny birth control coverage otherwise required by the Affordable Care Act.
- Undo the Trump administration’s rollback of critical protections against discrimination in health care, restore and strengthen health care non-discrimination protections.
- Eliminate the harmful budgetary riders that restrict access to reproductive health care, namely the Weldon and Hyde Amendments, and pass a budget with a $954 million for the nation’s family planning program (Title IX).
- Rescind the devastating global and domestic gag rules, which have jeopardized care for millions of patients in the United States and around the world. (IN PROGRESS)
- Issue guidance to lift the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone for the duration of the public health emergency, consistent with similar directives and waivers issued to reduce risk of COVID-19 (DONE)
- Establish an interagency task force or a high-level office to develop a coordinated federal response to the ongoing crisis in access to reproductive health care crisis, with a particular focus on communities who are most impacted.
- Restore the HHS Office of Civil Rights to its original mission of enhancing and protecting the health and well-being of all Americans, including by closing the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division,” which was solely focused on emboldening health care providers to use personal beliefs to discriminate against patients.
- Reopen and investigate complaints alleging the state of California and University of Vermont Medical Center violated federal laws simply for protecting individuals’ access to abortion. While investigating, immediately halt the unprecedented enforcement of taking $200 million in Medicaid funds quarterly from the state of California.
- Rescind the Trump administration’s rule intended to take insurance coverage of abortion away from people enrolled in qualified plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
- Protect patients’ choice of reproductive health care provider, ensuring that states may not exclude qualified providers of reproductive health care from Medicaid for reasons unrelated to their qualifications, including provision of abortion care.
- Strengthen access to Medicaid coverage for people with low incomes by rescinding the January 2018 Opportunities to Promote Work and Community Engagement Among Medicaid Beneficiaries State Medical Director guidance, denying all pending proposals, and withdrawing all approvals.
- Issue guidance on Affordable Care Act section 1332 waivers aimed at improving access to health benefits and services. The guidance should be designed to encourage states to expand coverage for new populations, such as DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants, and to add benefits, and should affirm that waiver applications that do not comply with the four statutory guardrails of comparable services, affordability, number of people covered, and deficit neutrality will be denied. (IN PROGRESS)
- Establish an Interagency Taskforce and issue regulations to encourage the development of a culture of equity, dignity, respect, and empowerment in health care systems, whereby accountability mechanisms are encouraged and implemented across systems to address discriminatory care, disrespect, mistreatment, and abuse of pregnant individuals based on race, age, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), ability, immigration status, insurance coverage, perceived socioeconomic status, and other factors.
- Strengthen Medicaid programs and maintenance of effort requirements and end policies that undermine them. Incentivize states to expand Medicaid and family planning services, and subsidize higher reimbursement rates for providers. (IN PROGRESS)
- Expand financial support for health care providers and ensure that any future COVID relief package does not include restrictions on abortion care.
- Pass the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act, which ensures that all servicemembers and their dependents who rely on the military for health care have comprehensive contraceptive coverage and counseling.
- Pass the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, which provides birth control at no-cost for veterans accessing care through the Department of Veteran Affairs. (IN PROGRESS)
- Pass the Access to Birth Control Act, which addresses inequities to health care services, including sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services, for immigrants.
- Pass the COVID Community Care Act, which addresses disparities in the containment of COVID in underserved communities.
- Pass the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which will fill gaps in existing legislation to comprehensibly address multiple dimensions of the Black maternal health crisis in America. (IN PROGRESS)
- Pass the EACH Act, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage restrictions, ensuring that anyone who gets care or insurance through the federal government will be covered for all pregnancy-related care, including by abortion. By lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage, the EACH Act ensures that the decision to have an abortion does not depend on a person’s income or how they are insured. (IN PROGRESS)
- Pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care by creating a safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that do not apply to similar medical care.
January 27, 2021: Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) posted news titled: “Nearly 9 Million Uninsured Americans Could Get Free or Subsidized Health Insurance if the Biden Administration Re-Opens ACA Marketplace Enrollment in Response to COVID-19”. From the news:
Four million uninsured people could get an ACA bronze plan with no premium payment and 4.9 million others could get subsidies to offset the cost of such a plan if the Biden Administration were to re-open ACA marketplace enrollment, a KFF analysis finds.
The 8.9 million people eligible for free or reduced-cost coverage represent nearly 60 percent of the approximately 15 million uninsured people in the U.S. who could shop for health insurance coverage on the ACA Marketplaces, the analysis finds. Compared to the general non-elderly population, the uninsured people in these categories are more likely to be young adults aged 19-34, Hispanic, non-native English speakers, lacking internet access, high-school educated and working in service industries such as arts, entertainment and recreation.
Those eligible for free bronze plans are also more likely than the general non-elderly population to be unemployed or working part-time, and to live in rural areas. More than half of them live in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, or Georgia.
Free or reduced-cost bronze ACA plans generally carry steep deductibles, requiring policy holders to pay thousands of dollars for care out of pocket before coverage kicks in. However, the analysis finds that about 2 of every 3 uninsured people who are eligible for a free ACA bronze plan have household income low enough to be eligible for significantly lower deductibles if they purchase a more expensive silver plan instead.
Based on campaign pledges, President Biden is expected to move towards reopening Marketplace enrollment as soon as this week, for example by announcing a COVID-19 special enrollment opportunity (SEP). His administration is also expected to direct more resources to marketing and outreach, following several years in which the Trump administration pared back such efforts.
The findings of the new analysis can inform government agencies or navigators engaged in outreach and marketing efforts. Uninsured people who are eligible for subsidies to buy Marketplace plans may be unaware of their options or need help understanding the tradeoffs.
KFF researchers estimate that more than $1 billion in unspent federal user fee revenue has accumulated that could be used by the new administration to invest in changes that would make it easier for consumers to enroll in health coverage…
January 28, 2021: Planned Parenthood posted a press release titled: “New Planned Parenthood and University of Utah Study Reveals Additional Options for Emergency Contraception”. From the press release:
A new study shows that patients may have a new option when it comes to emergency contraception. Today, the New England Journal of Medicine published results from a randomized controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of two intrauterine devices (IUDs) when used as emergency contraception. Conducted by researchers at the University of Utah Health in close partnership with Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, the three-year study found that Liletta – a levonorgestrel 52 mg IUD – is no less effective as an emergency contraceptive method as Paragard, the copper IUD. The findings represent a clear advance in clinical practice and patient access to care – providing another highly effective option for patients who seek emergency contraception and ongoing birth control.
Up till now, there had been little data on the effectiveness of hormonal IUDs as a standalone emergency contraception method. Best practices had recommended that patients who had unprotected sex before placement of the Liletta or Mirena IUD as an emergency contraceptive up to five days after unprotected sex, but it also demonstrates that only one method of emergency contraception is required to prevent unintended pregnancy…
…The study, supported by the National Institutes of Health and carried out at six Planned Parenthood health centers in Utah, found:
- The Liletta IUD is no less effective than Paragard as an emergency contraceptive following unprotected intercourse in the previous five days.
- The Liletta IUD is effective on its own – with no need to supplement with an oral emergency contraception – as an emergency contraceptive.
- The Liletta IUD can be used as a quick-start method of birth control, meaning that it can become effective at any day of the menstrual cycle, as long as there is a negative pregnancy test prior to having it placed.
While all participants of the study – conducted between 2016 and 2019 – received Liletta, its findings would also apply to Mirena, a levonorgestrel 52 mg IUD as well…
January 28, 2021: The White House posted a statement titled: “FACT SHEET: President Biden to Sign Executive Orders Strengthening Americans’ Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care” From the statement:
The Biden-Harris Administration will open a Special Enrollment Period for Americans to sign up for health coverage and roll back attacks on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and access to reproductive health care.
After four years of attempts to strip health care from millions of Americans, President Biden will sign two millions of Americans, President Biden will sign two executive actions that will begin to restore and strengthen Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. The Biden-Harris administration will re-open enrollment to the Health Insurance Marketplace, take additional steps to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and protect women’s health. These actions demonstrate a strong commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act, meet the heath care needs created by the pandemic, reduce health care costs, protect access to reproductive health care, and make our health system easier to navigate and more equitable.
For President Biden, this is personal. He believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality health care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, over 100 million people will no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition. Roughly 20 million additional Americans obtained the security that comes with health insurance, and young people transitioning from school to a job can stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26.
As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to affordable health care. The actions the President is taking today complement the commitment he made in the American Rescue Plan to make health insurance coverage more affordable for millions of Americans. Reliable and affordable access to health insurance doesn’t just benefit families’ health; it is a critical source of economic security and peace of mind for all.
Today’s actions include:
Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This Executive Order takes critical steps to reverse attacks on and strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, so they can continue to provide access to live-saving care for millions of Americans. Based on this Executive Order, it is expected that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will open HealthCare.gov for a “Special Enrollment Period,” from February 15, 2021, – May 15, 2021. This Special Enrollment Period will give Americans that need health care coverage during this global pandemic the opportunity to sign up.
The President will also direct federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.
Agencies are directed to re-examine:
- Policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19;
- Demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements;
- Policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets for health insurance;
- Policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the ACA; and
- Policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents.
As part of their reviews, agencies will consider whether to take additional actions to strengthen and protect access to health care.
Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad. Across the country and around the world, people – particularly women, Black, Indigenous and other people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and those with low incomes – have been denied access to reproductive health care. President Biden is also issuing a Presidential Memorandum to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care. The memorandum reflects the policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally.
Like memoranda issued by President Clinton and President Obama, it immediately rescinds the global gag rule, also referred to as the Mexico City Policy, which bars international non-profits that provide abortion counseling or referrals from receiving U.S. funding. In recognition of the additional work necessary to protect access to reproductive health care, President Biden’s memorandum also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to take immediate action to consider whether to rescind regulations under its Title X family planning program.
January 28, 2021: President Biden tweeted: “This afternoon I took action to restore and strengthen Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. The issue is personal to me – and now more than ever, I’m committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care they need.”
The tweet included a photo of President Biden at signing an executive order.
January 28, 2021: The White House posted “Executive Order on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act”. From the executive order:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. In the 10 years since its enactment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced the number of uninsured Americans by more than 20 million, extended critical consumer protections to more than 100 million people, and strengthened and improved the Nation’s healthcare system. At the same time, millions of people who are potentially eligible for coverage under the ACA or other laws remain uninsured, and obtaining insurance benefits is more difficult than necessary. For these reasons, it is the policy of my Administration to protect and strengthen Medicaid and the ACA and to make high-quality health care accessible and affordable for every American.
Sec. 2 Special Enrollment Period. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered a historic public health and economic crisis. In January of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading, the Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency. In March of 2020, the President declared a national emergency. Although almost a year has passed, the emergency continues – over 5 million Americans have contracted the disease in January 2021, and thousands are dying every week. Over 30 million Americans remain uninsured, preventing many from obtaining necessary health services and treatment. Black, Latino and Native American persons are more likely to be uninsured, and communities of color have been especially hard hit by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider establishing a Special Enrollment Period for uninsured and under-insured Americans to seek coverage through the Federally Facilitated Marketplaces, pursuant to existing authorities, including sections 18031 and 18041 of title 42, United States Code, and section 155.420(d)(9) of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, and consistent with applicable law.
Sec. 3. Immediate Review of Agency Actions (a) The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with authorities and responsibilities related to Medicaid and the ACA (collectively, heads of agencies) shall, as soon as practicable, review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency (collectively, agency actions) to determine whether such agency actions are inconsistent with this policy set forth in section 1 of this order. As part of this review, the heads of agencies shall examine the following:
(i) policies or practices that may undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19, under the ACA;
(ii) policies or practices that may undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or the individual, small group, or large group markets for health insurance in the United States;
(iv) policies or practices that may present unnecessary barriers to individuals and families attempting to access Medicaid or ACA coverage, including for mid-year enrollment; and
(v) policies or practices that may reduce the affordability of coverage or financial assistance for coverage, including for dependents.
(b) Heads of agencies shall, as soon as practicable and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind – and, as applicable, publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising or rescinding – those agency actions identified as inconsistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.
(c) Heads of agencies shall, as soon as practicable and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind – and, as applicable, consider whether to take any additional actions to more fully enforce the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.
Sec. 4. Revocation of Certain Presidential Actions and Review of Associated Agency Actions. (a) Executive Order 13765 of January 20, 2017, (Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal), and Executive Order 13813 of October 12, 2017 (Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States), are revoked.
(b) As part of the review required under section 3 of this order, heads of agencies shall identify existing agency actions related to or arising from Executive Orders 13765 and 13813. Heads of agencies shall, as soon as practicable, consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind – – and as applicable, publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding – any such agency actions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law and the policy set forth in section 1 of this order…
January 28, 2021: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Democrat – California) posted a press release titled: “Pelosi Statement on President Biden Executive Actions Strengthening Health Care”. From the press release:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on the Executive Actions announced by President Biden today to strengthen Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care:
“The coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis have demonstrated with heartbreaking clarity that access to health care is a matter of life-or-death. President Biden’s Executive Actions are a lifeline for millions of American families and a clear sign that our nation now has the leadership in the White House to turn these crises around.
“These Executive Actions represent a 180-degree reversal from the assault on health care waged by Donald Trump and Republicans in the courts and Congress in the middle of the pandemic. In stark contrast, President Biden is restoring and expanding access to health care in a way that promotes equity and justice for working families, those who have lost jobs, seniors, women in need of reproductive health care at home and abroad, and more. In particular, opening a special enrollment period will enable potentially millions of Americans who have lost their health insurance through no fault of their own to access care.
“The Democratic Congress applauds these lifesaving actions, and we will continue to work to protect and improve affordable, quality health care – during this pandemic, and in the months and years to come.
January 28, 2021: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center For Children and Families posted a blog titled: “Biden Administration Announces It Will Reopen Federal Marketplace Enrollment”. It was written by Edwin Park. From the blog:
Today, January 28, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order establishing a new special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces in most states, in order to increase health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The special enrollment period will begin February 15, 2021 and run through May 15, and like the annual open enrollment period, will likely be available to anyone who is eligible a marketplace plan. (The special enrollment period will apply in the 30 with federally-facilitated marketplaces and the 6 states with state-based marketplaces using the federal platform. In these 36 states, the annual open enrollment period for 2021 had previously closed on December 15, 2020. The remaining 15 states and the District of Columbia with state-based marketplaces could potentially reopen enrollment through the new special enrollment periods as well but that will be a state-by-state choice.)
This special enrollment period could facilitate the enrollment of many more people in marketplace plans, particularly if it is supported by a coordinated, well-financed advertising, marketing, outreach and consumer assistance campaign. Such an effort would significantly increase public awareness of the new special enrollment period and help guide families through the application, enrollment, and selection process. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2021, nearly 9 million people are estimated to be eligible for subsidized marketplace coverage but remain uninsured. But a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in December 2020 found that only 14 percent of Americans who buy insurance on their own or are uninsured were aware of the annual open enrollment period deadline for the marketplace in their state.
This is due, in part, to the Trump Administration’s significant reduction in spending on marketing, outreach, and consumer assistance activities related to the Affordable Care Act over the last four years. As a result, new marketplace enrollment has fallen every year since 2016. The Trump Administration’s failure to reverse course during the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly egregious, as millions of families lost their jobs and their employer sponsored insurance…
January 28, 2021: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities posted a blog titled: “Biden Directs Federal Agencies to Reconsider Trump Policy Under Which Thousands Lost Medicaid Coverage”. It was written by Hannah Katch. From the blog:
The Biden Administration today released an executive order directing federal agencies to “reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.” The order specifically requires the Department of Health and Human Services to re-examine a Trump Administration policy encouraging states to take Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet harsh work requirements, which led to large coverage losses but didn’t increase employment. The Department should act quickly to rescind this policy.
Under the Trump policy, announced in 2018, states could submit proposals for demonstration projects letting them take coverage away from people who didn’t document that they worked or participated in work activities like job training for a specified number of hours each month – something that the federal government never previously permitted. The Trump Administration approved proposals from 12 states, though only Arkansas fully implemented its demonstration (until a federal court struck it down). In the seven months that the Arkansas policy was in effect, more than 18,000 people – nearly 1 in 4 of those subject to the new rules – lost their coverage.
Other states, too, would have suffered large coverage losses if they had fully implemented their demonstration projects. New Hampshire was on track to take coverage away from nearly 17,000 people – about 40 percent of those subject to the pending rules – before state policymakers on a bipartisan basis halted the policy. Similarly, some 80,000 Michiganders – nearly 1 in 3 of those subject to work requirements – were in danger of losing coverage is a court hadn’t stopped the policy. In all three states, the number of people who were set to lose coverage exceeded the estimates of the presumed target population: people who weren’t working or eligible for an exemption. This indicates that working people and people who should have been exempt from the new rules almost certainly lost or risked losing coverage due to red tape.
Large coverage losses, including among people who are working or who should be eligible for exemptions, are unavoidable under these policies. People with disabilities and other serious needs – especially mental health conditions or substance use disorders – lose coverage because they struggle with paperwork to claim exemptions. Working people lose coverage due to both paperwork barriers and the nature of low-wage work, like fluctuating hours. (That’s why nearly half of working low-income adults wouldn’t be able to document at least 80 hours of work each month, as many state demonstrations required.) And when people lose coverage, they face financial hardship and lose access to medications and other needed care, which can be catastophic for those with chronic physical or mental health conditions.
Taking away coverage also fails to help people find and keep jobs. One study found evidence that people losing Medicaid under Arkansas’ policy became uninsured, but no evidence that the policy increased employment…
…To execute today’s action, the Department of Health and Human Services should quickly rescind the Trump Administration’s letter to states encouraging work requirement policies, revoke approval for those state policies where they are in effect, and petition the Supreme Court to dismiss pending litigation on this matter, since the policy is no longer in effect anywhere.
January 28, 2021: The White House posted a presidential action titled: “Women’s Health at Home and Abroad”. From the presidential action:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE, THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Section 1. Policy. Women should have access to the healthcare they need. For too many women today, both at home and abroad, that is not possible. Undue restrictions of the use of Federal funds have made it harder for women to obtain necessary healthcare. The Federal Government must take action to ensure that women at home and around the world are able to access complete medical information, including with respect to their reproductive health.
In the United States, Title X of the Public Health Services Act (42. U.S.C. 300 – 300a-6) provides Federal funding for family planning services that primarily benefit low-income patients. The Act specifies that Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning, but places no further abortion-related restrictions on recipients of Title X funds. See 42 U.S.C. 300a-6.
In 2019, the Secretary of Health and Human Services finalized changes to regulations governing the Title X program and issued a final rule entitled “Compliance With Statutory Program Integrity Requirements,” 84. Fed. Reg. 7714 (March 4, 2019) (Title X Rule), which prohibits recipients of Title X funds from referring patients to abortion providers and imposes other onerous requirements on abortion providers. The Title X Rule has caused the termination of Federal family planning funding for many women’s healthcare providers and puts women’s health at risk by making it harder for women to receive complete medical information.
It is the policy of my Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)(I)), prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive federal funds from using those funds “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the “Mexico City Policy” directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID family planning funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to perform abortions, provide advice, counseling, or information to legalize abortion or make abortion services more easily available.
These restrictions were rescinded by President Clinton in 1993, reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001, and rescinded by President Obama in 2009.
President Trump substantially expanded these restrictions by applying the policy to global health assistance provided by all executive departments and agencies (agencies). These excessive conditions on foreign and development assistance undermine the United States’ efforts to advance gender equality globally by restricting our ability to support women’s health and programs that prevent and respond to gender-based violence. The expansion of the policy has also affected all other areas of global health assistance, limiting the Unites States’ ability to work with local partners around the world and inhibiting their efforts to confront serious health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, among others. Such restrictions on global health assistance are particularly harmful in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Accordingly, I hereby order as follows:
Sec. 2 Revocations and Other Actions. (a) The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall review the Title X Rule and any other regulations governing the Title X program that impose undue restrictions on the use of Federal funds or women’s access to complete medical information and shall consider, as soon as practicable, whether to suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding , those regulations, consistent with applicable law, including the Administrative Procedures Act.
(b) The Presidential Memorandum of January 23, 2017 (The Mexico City Policy), is revoked.
(c) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Administrator of USAID, and appropriate officials at all other agencies involved in foreign assistance shall take all steps necessary to implement this memorandum, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law. This shall include the following actions with respect to conditions in assistance awards that were imposed pursuant to the January 2017 Presidential Memorandum and that are not required by the Foreign Assistance Act or any law…
(d) The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of USAID, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, shall suspend, revise, or rescind any regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions that were issued pursuant to the January 2017 Presidential Memorandum.
(e) The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a timely and appropriate manner, shall withdraw co-sponsorship and signature from the Geneva Consensus Declaration (Declaration) and notify other co-sponsors and signatories to the Declaration and other appropriate parties of the United States’ withdrawal…
January 28, 2021: Center for Reproductive Rights posted a statement titled: “CEO Nancy Northup’s Statement on President Biden’s Executive Order”. From the statement:
Today, President Joe Biden issued an executive order repealing the Global Gag Rule that had been re-issued and greatly expanded during the Trump Administration; beginning the repeal of the Title X rule; withdrawing the U.S. co-sponsorship and signature from the Geneva Consensus Declaration; and restoring funding to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This follows President Biden’s announcement last week to rejoin the World Health Organization.
The following is a statement for Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights on this executive order:
Today the Biden administration took an important first step towards righting the Trump administration’s tremendous wrongs impacting access to reproductive health, rights, and justice. In revoking the Global Gag Rule and acting to rescind the Domestic Gag Rule, President Biden is stopping policies that were intended to force reproductive health centers, in the U.S. and around the world, to stop providing and referring for abortion services.
The Biden administration also disavowed the disgraceful anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQI+ “declaration” that the Trump administration co-sponsored in October and ordered the State Department to take the steps to restore funding to UNFPA and to ensure that there are adequate funds to support women’s reproductive and sexual health needs globally…
January 28, 2021: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted news titled: “HHS Announces Marketplace Special Enrollment Period for COVID-19 Public Health Emergency”. From the news:
In accordance with the Executive Order issued today by President Biden, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families for Marketplace coverage in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which has left millions of Americans facing uncertainty and exceptional circumstances while millions of while millions of Americans have experienced new health problems during the pandemic.
This SEP will allow individuals and families in states with Marketplaces served by the HealthCare.gov platform to enroll in 2021 health insurance coverage. Beginning February 15, 2021, and through May 15, 2021, these Marketplaces will operationalize functionality to make this SEP available to all Marketplace-eligible consumers who are submitting a new application or updating an existing application. State-based Marketplaces (SBMs) operating their own platform have the opportunity to take similar action within their states.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that we deploy every available resource during the Public Health Emergency. This Special Enrollment Period will ensure that more individuals and families have access to quality, affordable health coverage during this unprecedented time,” said HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran.
The SEP will be offered to consumers applying for new coverage or updating an existing application through HealthCare.gov, the Marketplace call center, or through direct enrollment channels. Coverage is prospective, with coverage beginning the first day of the month following the date of plan selection…
January 28, 2021: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services posted news titled: “2021 Special Enrollment Period in response to the COVID-19 Emergency”. From the news:
The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) national emergency has presented unprecedented challenges for the American public. Millions of Americans are facing uncertainty and millions of Americans are experiencing new health problems during the pandemic. Due to the exceptional circumstances and rapidly changing Public Health Emergency (PHE) impacting millions of people throughout the US every day, many Americans remain uninsured or underinsured and still need affordable health coverage.
In accordance with the Executive Order issued today by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) determined that the COVID-19 emergency presents exceptional circumstances for consumers in accessing health insurance and will provide a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage they need. This SEP will be available to consumers in the 36 states served by Marketplaces that use the HealthCare.gov platform, and CMS will conduct outreach activities to encourage those who are eligible to enroll in health coverage. CMS strongly encourages states operating their own Marketplace platforms to make a similar enrollment opportunity available to consumers in their states.
Starting on February 15, 2021, and continuing through May 15, 2021, Marketplaces using the HealthCare.gov platform will operationalize functionality to make a SEP available to all Marketplace-eligible consumers who are submitting a new application or updating an existing application. These consumers will newly be able to access the SEP through a variety of channels: through HealthCare.gov directly, the Marketplace call center, or direct enrollment channels. Additionally, consumers can work with a network of over 50,000 agents and brokers who are registered with the Marketplace, along with over 8,000 trained assisters, ready to assist consumers with their application for coverage.
To promote the SEP and ensure that a broad and diverse range of consumers are aware of this implementation, CMS will conduct an outreach campaign in cooperation with community and stakeholder organizations, focused on education and awareness of this new opportunity to enroll in English, Spanish, and other languages. CMS outreach efforts will include considerable awareness building efforts to encourage the uninsured and those who come to HealthCare.gov to explore coverage to continue the process and enroll. CMS plans to spend $50 million on outreach and education, on a mix of tactics to increase awareness, including advertisments on broadcast, digital, and an earned media.
Some consumers may already be eligible for other existing SEPs, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – they can visit Healthcare.gov now to find out if they can enroll in this new SEP. Starting February 15, consumers seeking to take advantage of this SEP can find out if they are eligible by visiting HealthCare.gov, and are no longer limited to calling the Marketplace call center to access this SEP.
Consumers who are eligible to enroll under this SEP will be able to select a plan with coverage that starts prospectively the first of the month after plan selection. Consumers will have 30 days after they submit their application to choose a plan. Current enrollees will be able to change to any available plan in their area without restriction to the same level of coverage as their current plan. In order to use this SEP, current enrollees will need to step through their application and make any changes if needed to their current information and submit their application in order to receive an updated eligibility result that provides the SEP before continuing on to enrollment.
This SEP opportunity will not involve any new application questions, or require consumers or enrollment partners to provide any new information not otherwise required to determine eligibility and enroll in coverage. In addition, consumers won’t need to provide any documentation of a qualifying event (e.g., loss of a job or birth of a child), which is typically required for SEP eligibility.
As always, consumers found eligible for Medicaid or CHIP will be transferred to their state Medicaid and CHIP agencies for enrollment in those programs.
January 28, 2021: NARAL Pro-Choice posted a press release titled: “NARAL Pro-Choice America Applauds President Biden’s Action to Expand Reproductive Freedom”. From the press release:
Today, President Joe Biden took executive action to end the global gag rule, roll back the domestic gag rule, restore funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and withdraw the United States from the anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ Geneva Consensus Declaration. The global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City policy, is a harmful and discriminatory policy that prevents non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. global health assistance from using their own, private funds for abortion referrals or to provide abortion care.
The Biden-Harris administration announced plans to roll back the Trump administration’s domestic gag policy that strips Title X funding from reproductive health and abortion care providers in the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services must begin the work to rescind this policy immediately so that family planning providers in every community have the resources they need to resume their critical work…
…In one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump announced a further expansion of the global gag rule from previous iterations implemented under Republican administrations. This move was the beginning of the Trump administration’s four-year-long effort to undermine reproductive freedom and to roll back our fundamental rights.
Research has shown that the global gag rule prevents people from accessing a wide range of critical health information and the healthcare they need and want. The reduced effectiveness of global health assistance as a result of the policy puts the lives of women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, BIPOC people, and other groups who face systemic barriers to care at risk. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, this draconian policy exacerbates global health challenges.
President Biden also took several actions to roll back other harmful Trump-era policies with global impact including ending the United States’ involvement in the Geneva Consensus Declaration (GCD). The GCD is an attempt from the Trump administration to undermine international consensus around sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Additionally, President Biden restored U.S. funding to UNFPA, which plays a critical role as the largest multilateral provider of family planning and reproductive health services with operations in more than 155 countries. Republican administrations and members of Congress often target the U.S. contribution to UNFPA and the Trump administration took things farther than any previous administration by cutting off all funding to the agency.
In addition to the unprecedented breadth of the Trump administration’s global gag rule and global anti-choice agenda, the Trump administration also implemented a sweeping domestic gag policy that stripped Title X Family Planning Program funding from healthcare providers who – in addition to other services – provide abortion care or referrals for abortion care.
While the Biden-Harris administration’s actions today undoubtedly expand reproductive freedom, it’s critical that this administration demonstrate its commitment to protecting and expanding access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare – including abortion care – and upholding sexual and reproductive rights in the United States and around the world by:
- Expanding access to reproductive healthcare by removing harmful and medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion care during COVID-19;
- Initiating a comprehensive FDA review of medication abortion – a safe, effective, FDA-approved option for ending an early pregnancy – so that people’s access to care reflects science, not politics;
- Rescinding Trump’s other executive actions that limit access to care, including refusals of healthcare and attacks on contraception coverage;
- Ensuring that the president’s budget advances reproductive freedom and excludes discriminatory restrictions on abortion coverage like the Hyde and Helms amendments;
- Nominating and appointing judges and executive branch officials with positive records on reproductive freedom, health, rights, and justice.
January 28, 2021: NARAL Pro-Choice America posted a press release titled: “NARAL Pro-Choice America Denounces Anti-Choice Lawmakers in the South Carolina Senate for Passing Extreme Ban on Abortion”. From the press release:
Today, anti-choice lawmakers in South Carolina state Senate passed an extreme and unconstitutional bill to ban abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant. The bill passed by a 30-13 vote and will now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Nearly 7,000 South Carolinians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and over 427,000 cases have been reported in the last year. Republican state senators’ decision to make attacking reproductive freedom their top priority in the 2021 legislative session reflects an increasingly extreme Republican Party that couldn’t be more out of touch with the needs of its constituents – not to mention the 77% of Americans who support Roe v. Wade and the legal right to abortion…
…Recent polling of South Carolina voters in key state Senate districts 31, 33, and 41 found that a large majority (67%) of voters believe that abortion should be legal and that the government should not prevent a woman from making that decision for herself.
In South Carolina, 71% of women live in counties with no abortion clinic. With Roe in the crosshairs, the stakes for women, people who are pregnant, and families are higher than ever. South Carolina already has some of the most severe restrictions on reproductive freedom in the United States, which include forcing a pregnant person to wait 24 hours before they can access abortion care and subjecting people to mandatory biased counseling. These restrictions disproportionately harm BIPOC, low-income, and rural communities, and are part of a coordinated effort by the Radical Right to maintain white patriarchal control at all costs.
January 28, 2021: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) posted information titled: “Women’s Preventive Services Initiative Receives Five-Year Grant Extension”. From the information:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is pleased that the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded ACOG a five-year cooperative agreement to continue the work of the Women’s Preventative Services Initiative (WPSI), a coalition of national health professional organizations and consumer and patient advocates with expertise in women’s health across the lifespan to develop, review, and update recommendations for preventive healthcare service, including HRSA-sponsored Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines. These HRSA-adopted recommendations help ensure that women receive a comprehensive set of preventive services without having to pay a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible…
January 29, 2021: National Women’s Law Center posted a resource titled: “The Biden-Harris Administration’s First Action on Reproductive Health Care Is A Win, But They Must Do So Much More to Expand Access to Abortion and Birth Control”. From the resource:
On January 28, 2021, President Biden took his first official action to start addressing dire gaps in access to reproductive health care. He issued a presidential memorandum to reverse select dangerous policies put into place by the Trump Administration, in recognition of the extraordinary harm done to sexual and reproductive rights, health, and justice in the last four years.
But while this was an important first action, it is not enough. The Biden-Harris Administration needs to move quickly to address other harmful Trump policies restricting access to reproductive health care. And the Biden-Harris Administration needs to go beyond just undoing the harm of the last four years; they need to move us forward to protect and expand access to reproductive health care.
The Presidential Memorandum of January 28, 2021:
President Biden issued a presidential memorandum (PM) to rescind the devastating global gag rule, which bars foreign non-profits from receiving any U.S. global health assistance if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country, even if these activities were supported solely with non-U.S. funds. The global gag rule has blocked health care access, stifled local advocacy efforts, and undermined reproductive rights worldwide.
The PM also takes the important first action of directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider rescission of the harmful domestic gag rule. The domestic gag rule prevents grant recipients in the nation’s Title X family planning program from providing nondirective options counseling to pregnant patients or referring to abortion providers, and allows Title X projects to refuse to provide the broad range of contraceptive methods.
This step is critical to ensuring that patients are no longer blocked by these rules from getting the care and information they need when they seek family planning care. While necessary, these actions are not sufficient to truly address the fact that across large swaths of the country, people are unable to access essential reproductive health care, jeopardizing their health, economic security, futures, and lives.
Here are additional actions the Biden-Harris Administration must take over the coming weeks to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, especially abortion.
Additional immediate actions needed to undo the harm of the Trump Administration
Suspend In-Person Dispensing Requirements for Medication Abortion During the Pandemic
The Biden Administration must issue guidance to suspend in-person dispensing requirements for medication abortion for the duration of the public health emergency. Requiring people to make an unnecessary trip to a health center during a pandemic puts their health at serious risk. Yet despite the risk, and despite the fact that all major medical groups, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), support lifting the requirement, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration to reinstate the FDA’s requirement for medication abortion to be dispensed in-person only. The Biden Administration must act quickly to stop enforcement. The FDA should also initiate a full review of the restrictions placed on medication abortion to ensure patient access is based on the latest science and medical evidence.
Rescind the Trump Administration Refusal of Care Rule
The Trump Administration finalized a rule that gives sweeping new rights to virtually any individual or entity involved in patient care to refuse to help people seeking health care. The refusal of care rule targets patients seeking reproductive health care, particularly abortion and sterilization, and LGBTQ+ patients. The Biden Administration must act quickly to rescind this rule and ensure health care entities do not use personal beliefs to deny patients care.
Rescind the Trump Administration Rule Intended to Eliminate Private Insurance Coverage of Abortion
The Trump Administration finalized a rule placing onerous and arbitrary requirements on insurance companies that offer plans with abortion coverage on the ACA marketplaces. This rule is intended to make it so burdensome for insurance companies to offer abortion coverage that they drip abortion coverage from their plans, ultimately eliminating abortion coverage from the ACA marketplace altogether. The Biden Administration must rescind this harmful rule.
Undo the Trump Administration Rollback of Critical Health Care Non-Discrimination Protections
The Trump Administration finalized a rule that rolled back critical protections against discrimination in health care, leaving patients more vulnerable to discrimination, more likely to be confused about their rights, and less likely to seek out care. The rule puts people’s lives in danger and is especially harmful to those living at the intersection of impacted communities. The rule specifically targets abortion care by imposing religious and abortion exemptions and further stigmatizes care. The Biden Administration must rescind this rule and restore and strengthen health care non-discrimination protections. No one should face discrimination in health care.
Additional immediate actions needed to move us forward
Strike the Hyde and Weldon Amendments from the President’s Budget
The President’s budget must eliminate the Hyde and Weldon amendments. These dangerous policy riders are included in the annual appropriations process and are intended to erect barriers to abortion care for Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, as well as people with low-incomes. The Hyde Amendment denies abortion coverage to individuals enrolled in Medicaid. The Weldon amendment threatens policymakers with the loss of critical federal dollars if they seek to protect their residents’ access to abortion. The Trump Administration attempted to dramatically expand the reach of the Weldon Amendment to punish states that ensure abortion coverage and to allow health care providers to deny patients abortion care. As President Biden’s January 28 PM acknowledged “[u]ndue restrictions on the use of Federal funds have made it harder for women to obtain necessary healthcare.” It is beyond time for these injustices to be righted and for both of these policies to go.
Create an Interagency Task Force or High Level Office on Reproductive Health Care
There is a reproductive health care crisis in this country, which is compounded by the COVID-19 crisis and underlying systemic racism. The crisis was undeniably worsened by the Trump Administration, but the cause of the crisis goes deeper and cannot be solved by a single agency or by merely reversing the harms of the Trump Administration. The Biden-Harris Administration should establish a White House Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Health Care – or a similar high level office – to develop a coordinated federal response to the crisis, with a particular focus on communities who are most impacted…
January 29, 2021: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted news titled: American Rescue Plan Lowers Health Insurance Costs for Americans Who May Have Lost Their Job”. From the news:
As part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) is again lowering the cost of health insurance and opening more pathways for Americans to obtain affordable and comprehensive health coverage. Starting July 1, 2021, consumers who received or are approved to receive unemployment compensation for any week beginning in 2021 may be able to find even lower cost plans and save extra money on out-of-pocket expenses through HealthCare.gov.
To take advantage of these additional savings, consumers who received or have been approved for unemployment compensation in 2021 need to visit HealthCare.gov to submit a new application or update their existing application to maximize the savings they can get for the rest of 2021. An average of three out of five eligible uninsured Americans can access $0 plans after advance payments of tax credits and an average of four out of five current HealthCare.gov consumers will be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month after advance payments of tax credits CMS encourages current consumers who have received unemployment income for any week beginning in 2021 to update their application and enrollment between July 1 and August 15 to maximize the savings on their Marketplace coverage for the rest of the year.
The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on providing relief to millions of families who need to access health insurance coverage because they have been impacted by job losses or underemployment during the pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Administration has made it easier than ever for Americans to enroll in an affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov thanks to the increased financial assistance provided through the American Rescue Plan. We encourage consumers who have received unemployment compensation in 2021 to visit the Marketplace to see if they qualify to save money on their health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.”
“We are doing everything we can to remove financial barriers to comprehensive health care,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “The American Rescue Plan provides consumers with additional savings and will make coverage even more attainable for those most in need. We welcome people who received unemployment benefits in 2021 to check out their health coverage options on HealthCare.gov on July 1.”
January 30, 2021: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a press release titled: “CDC requires wearing of face masks while on public transportation and at transportation hubs”. From the press release:
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge in the United States, CDC is implementing provisions of President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and will require the wearing of masks by all travelers into, within, or out of the United States, e.g., on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. The mask requirement also applies to travelers in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and seaports; train, bus, and subway stations; and any other areas that provide transportation.
Transportation operators must require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel. Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.
This action is to further prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and to further support state and local health authorities, transportation partners, and conveyance operators to keep passengers, employees and communities safe.
Today’s order from CDC is part of a comprehensive, science-driven, U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One component of the whole-of-government response is taking actions related to reducing virus spread through travel. Transmission of the virus through travel has led to – and continues to lead to – interstate and international spread of the virus.
“America’s transportation systems are essential,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “Given how interconnected most transportation systems are across our nation and the world, when infected persons travel on public conveyances without wearing a mask and with others who are not wearing masks, the risk of interstate and international transmission can grow quickly.”
Traveling on public transportation increases a person’s risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 by brining people in close contact with others, often for prolonged periods, and exposing them to frequently touched surfaces. Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others. Masks also help protect the wearer by reducing the chance they will breathe respiratory droplets carrying the virus…
…This order will be effective on February 2, 2021…
This blog will be updated if and when I find additional relevant information from credible sources.
Health Care Under Biden-Harris Administration – January 2021 is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.
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