WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday will begin rolling back anti-abortion measures put in place by the Trump administration and shore up the Affordable Care Act after four years of efforts to dismantle one of Biden’s top legislative accomplishments as vice president.
Biden will sign an executive order Thursday directing federal agencies to reverse policies put in place by the Trump administration that weakened the healthcare.gov insurance marketplace and made it more difficult for people to get Medicaid.
Biden will also issue a presidential memorandum reversing the “Mexico City policy,” or global gag rule, which bars U.S. tax dollars from going to international organizations that provide abortion services, and directing the Department of Health and Human services to reconsider policies put in place that limit funding for groups in the U.S. that provide abortion and family planning services.
Biden’s actions on health care and abortion are among the numerous ways he has been wiping out his predecessor’s signature achievements. After just over a week in office, Biden has halted construction on the border wall, rejoined the Paris climate pact, and thrown out the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several Muslim-majority countries.
Former President Donald Trump was unsuccessful in getting Congress to repeal Obamacare, but did take steps to weaken the law by making it harder for people to get coverage, particularly those with lower incomes. But because Trump’s actions were done through executive power rather than legislation, Biden will be able to reverse many of them quickly and unilaterally.
Under the executive order Biden will sign Thursday, the healthcare.gov marketplace will be opened for a three-month special enrollment period starting Feb. 15 for people to get health care coverage needed during the pandemic.
The order will also direct agencies to re-examine Trump administration policies that undermine and make it more difficult for people to enroll in Medicaid or the healthcare.gov insurance plans and make insurance less affordable.
The Trump administration had slashed the advertising and outreach budget for the federally supported health insurance marketplaces and shortened the length of time people had to sign up for insurance on them. The Trump administration also eliminated subsidies to help insurers lower out-of-pocket costs for people with lower incomes.
One change Trump made to Obamacare that will be more difficult to address, however, is eliminating the tax penalty for those who don’t have insurance. That was wiped out in the 2017 tax overhaul passed by Congress, so it would need to be reinstated through legislation. The penalty was intended to encourage people to purchase insurance.
During Trump’s presidential campaign he repeatedly promised that a health care plan would be coming in a matter of weeks, but no such plan with any level of detail was ever released.
Biden’s presidential memorandum on abortion will immediately rescind the Mexico City policy, which was initially put in place by President Ronald Reagan and reinstated by Trump. It will also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to take immediate action to consider whether to rescind regulations under its Title X family planning program, which under the Trump administration cut millions in federal funds for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.