“Vote like your health care is on the ballot – because it is,” tweeted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden this September after President Donald Trump appointed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Indeed, our health as a nation depends on the government’s response to pressing issues such as the coronavirus, drug policies, access to health care including abortion, and climate change.
This is where Biden stands today on these important health issues.
To the coronavirus answer:
As Biden pointed out in the first presidential debate, the US accounts for about 4% of the world’s population but 20% of the world’s coronavirus death toll, with the virus disproportionately affecting black communities. So it̵
Biden’s plan to address COVID-19 prioritizes decisions made by science. SELF previously reported that testing is key to containing the virus, even if we have a vaccine. Biden’s plan promises to double the number of drive-through coronavirus test sites, invest in rapid tests, and mobilize at least 100,000 Americans into a contact tracing program. Then there is the mask aspect which can make a life-saving difference in this pandemic. Health officials estimate that wearing masks consistently between August 6 and December 1 would save about 70,000 American lives. Biden says that if elected he will use the Defense Production Act to ramp up mask production and urge governors to make masks mandatory in their states. He has also pledged to restore the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization, which Trump cut off earlier this year, to better coordinate the American COVID-19 response. Biden says he will set up a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparity Task Force, proposed by fellow campaigner Senator Kamala Harris, to better address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black and brown communities. And with federal agencies currently counting the number of cases by state, Biden will create a nationally run “Pandemic Dashboard” so Americans can see the number of coronavirus cases in real time based on their zip code.
To access health care:
Biden has long been a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The ACA guarantees that most health insurance plans offer free coverage for things like vaccines and disease prevention. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it is illegal for insurers to refuse service or treatment to people with pre-existing medical conditions (previously common) that affect up to one in two Americans. The ACA also prohibits insurers from setting lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care you can receive, and mandates coverage for birth control, breastfeeding equipment and counseling, and mental health and substance abuse services. With the ACA, more than 20 million Americans got health coverage and reduced uninsured rates by a third or more for people of all incomes, according to the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities. The ACA also had its drawbacks, such as the unpopular single mandate that the Trump administration repealed in 2017. The Trump administration has also phased Obamacare and asked the Supreme Court to repeal the law in June of this year.
Biden has repeatedly said that he does not support Medicare for all; Instead, its health platform is doubling on the ACA. Biden’s plan includes a public option “like Medicare” to provide free access to health care for the 4.9 million Americans living in any of the 14 states that have refused to accept the ACA’s Medicaid extension. The plan aims to cut costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers and by covering basic care with no co-payments. Other highlights include the prohibition on healthcare providers to surprise patients in certain situations (e.g. when they are hospitalized). Limiting drug price increases to inflation (to keep drug companies from hitting prices drastically overnight); and allow consumers to purchase prescription drugs from other countries.
In case of abortion:
Before the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. calf The Guttmacher Institute made the right to abortion legal, with illegal abortions accounting for around 17 percent of all reported deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth. The actual number was likely much higher. With Trump’s appointment of Barrett to the Supreme Court, experts say so Roe v. calf is potentially at risk. When the court falls over Roe v. calfAbortion rights would be left to the individual states. (Barrett has said it would follow the Court’s precedent on abortion, but in a 2016 presidential debate, Trump said he would appoint “pro-life judges” and that the legality of abortion would actually go back to individual states. There are, too other cases the court could jeopardize access to safe and legal abortion.)
Without Roe v. calfAccording to an analysis by the Center for Reproductive Rights, fewer than half of the US states and no US territories have any other legal protections for access to abortion. According to Planned Parenthood, a third of all women of childbearing age would not have access to abortion in their state. In October, Biden told reporters if the Supreme Court falls over Roe v. calf, his “only answer to that is.” [to] Pass laws that make Roe the law of the country. “It is not clear how he would achieve this as the Supreme Court could then challenge these laws. Still, Biden has gained recognition from pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice.