How Biden’s Plan for Health Care Benefits Communities of Color
Obamacare was a big deal for communities of color. It expanded health coverage to millions, reduced costs and improved the quality of healthcare. It provided the following benefits:
- Over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer, diabetes, heart disease or a mental health challenge. Many communities of color face higher rates of these pre-existing conditions — according to the National Kidney Foundation, “Approximately 4.9 million African Americans over 20 years of age are living with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.”
- Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage.
- Young people who are in transition from school to a job have the option to stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26.
- “More than four million Hispanic adults”, “3 million uninsured non-elderly, African-Americans,” and “2 million AAPIs” gained coverage under Obamacare by the time President Obama and Vice President Biden left office. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the uninsured rate for non-elderly African-Americans decreased from 19% to 11% and for non-elderly Hispanics from 40% to 25% under the ACA.
- By the end of the Obama Administration, both African-American and Hispanic teen pregnancies dropped to an all-time low, with Hispanic teens’ birth rate falling by nearly 50%.
- In 2014, life expectancy at birth was the highest it had ever been for African Americans.
Biden opposes every effort to get rid of this historic law – those by Republicans and those by Democrats. Instead of starting from scratch and getting rid of private insurance, he has a plan to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate.
In the coming months, Joe Biden will build on today’s plan by rolling out his proposals to tackle some of our greatest public health challenges – from reducing gun violence to curing devastating diseases as we know them like cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and addiction.
As President, Biden will:
GIVE EVERY AMERICAN ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE
- Giving Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. As of 2017, one in four Hispanics were uninsured at some point in the previous 12 months. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare. As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And, it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.
- Increasing the value of tax credits to lower premiums and extend coverage to more working Americans. Today, families that make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level may receive a tax credit to reduce how much they have to pay for health insurance on the individual marketplace.The dollar amount of the financial assistance is calculated to ensure each family does not have to pay more than a certain percentage of their income on a silver (medium generosity) plan. But, these shares of income are too high and silver plans’ deductibles are too high. Additionally, many families making more than 400% of the federal poverty level (about $50,000 for a single person and $100,000 for a family of four), and thus not qualifying for financial assistance, still struggle to afford health insurance. The Biden Plan will help middle class families by eliminating the 400% income cap on tax credit eligibility and lowering the limit on the cost of coverage from 9.86% of income to 8.5%. This means that no family buying insurance on the individual marketplace, regardless of income, will have to spend more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance. Additionally, the Biden Plan will increase the size of tax credits by calculating them based on the cost of a more generous gold plan, rather than a silver plan. This will give more families the ability to afford more generous coverage, with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
- Expanding coverage to low-income Americans. Access to affordable health insurance shouldn’t depend on your state’s politics. But today, state politics is getting in the way of coverage for millions of low-income Americans. Governors and state legislatures in 14 states have refused to take up the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, denying access to Medicaid for an estimated 4.9 million adults. 16% of African-Americans would qualify for Medicaid, but for their state’s inaction. Biden’s plan will ensure these individuals get covered by offering premium-free access to the public option for those 4.9 million individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid but for their state’s inaction, and making sure their public option covers the full scope of Medicaid benefits. States that have already expanded Medicaid will have the choice of moving the expansion population to the premium-free public option as long as the states continue to pay their current share of the cost of covering those individuals. Additionally, Biden will ensure people making below 138% of the federal poverty level get covered. He’ll do this by automatically enrolling these individuals when they interact with certain institutions (such as public schools) or other programs for low-income populations (such as SNAP).
STAND UP TO ABUSE OF POWER BY PRESCRIPTION DRUG CORPORATIONS
- Repealing the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Because Medicare covers so many Americans, it has significant leverage to negotiate lower prices for its beneficiaries. And it does so for hospitals and other providers participating in the program, but not drug manufacturers. Drug manufacturers not facing any competition, therefore, can charge whatever price they choose to set. There’s no justification for this except the power of prescription drug lobbying. The Biden Plan will repeal the existing law explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations.
ENSURE HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT FOR ALL, NOT A PRIVILEGE FOR JUST A FEW
Joe Biden believes that every American – regardless of gender, race, income, sexual orientation, or zip code – should have access to affordable and quality health care. Yet racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination permeate our health care system just as in every other part of society. As president, Biden will be a champion for improving access to health care and the health of all by:
- Expanding access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion. The Affordable Care Act made historic progress by ensuring access to free preventive care, including contraception. The Biden Plan will build on that progress. Vice President Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because health care is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income. And, the public option will cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right to choose. In addition, the Biden Plan will:
- Reverse the Trump Administration and states’ all-out assault on women’s right to choose. As president, Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion, such as so-called TRAP laws, parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements.
- Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Obama-Biden administration fought Republican attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood again and again. More than one-third of Planned Parenthood’s patients are people of color, including more than half a million Latino patients and nearly 400,0000 African-American patients. As president, Biden will reissue guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers that refer for abortions or provide related information and reverse the Trump Administration’s rule preventing Planned Parenthood and certain other family planning programs from obtaining Title X funds.
- Just as the Obama-Biden Administration did, President Biden will rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded. This rule currently bars the U.S. federal government from supporting important global health efforts – including for malaria and HIV/AIDS – in developing countries simply because the organizations providing that aid also offer information on abortion services.
- Reducing our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, which especially impacts people of color. Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. has the highest rate of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth, and we are the only country experiencing an increase in this death rate. This problem is especially prevalent among black women, who experience a death rate from complications related to pregnancy that is more than three times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As president, Biden will take this strategy nationwide.
- Defending health care protections for all, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could increase premiums merely due to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Further, insurance companies could increase premiums or deny coverage altogether due to someone’s HIV status. Yet, President Trump is trying to walk back this progress. For example, he has proposed to once again allow health care providers and insurance companies to discriminate based on a patient’s gender identity or abortion history. President Biden will defend the rights of all people – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity – to have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination.
- Doubling America’s investment in community health centers. Community health centers provide primary, prenatal, and other important care to underserved populations. In 2015, 59% of patients at community health centers were people of color and one quarter were uninsured. The Biden Plan will double the federal investment in these centers, expanding access to high quality health care for the populations that need it most.
- Achieving mental health parity and expanding access to mental health care. As Vice President, Biden was a champion for efforts to implement the federal mental health parity law, improve access to mental health care, and eliminate the stigma around mental health. Studies tell us that communities of color face higher rates of mental health stigma, and African-Americans are “20% more likely” to experience serious mental health challenges. As President, he will redouble these efforts to ensure enforcement of mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health services.