Last night President Biden raised a lot of eyebrows during a 60 Minutes segment in which he was being interviewed while walking through the Detroit Auto Show:
Scott Pelley: "Mr. President...first Auto Show in three years...is the pandemic over?"
President Biden: "The pandemic is over...we still have a problem with COVID...we're still doing a lot of work on it...but the pandemic is over...If you notice, no one's wearing masks; everyone seems to be in pretty good shape...and so I think it's changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it."
Then, today, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who I had hoped would try to walk back and/or clarify the President's statement, instead doubled down on it:
U.S. Health Sec. Xavier Becerra supported a surprise comment over the weekend from President Joe Biden, who declared the pandemic over.
"The president is correct," Becerra told Yahoo Finance Monday.
President Biden will issue an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services, building on actions that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend women’s fundamental rights. The President kick off the Vice President’s first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. At the meeting, the Cabinet will discuss their progress and the path forward to address the women’s health crisis in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SECURING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE AND OTHER HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to:
Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alongside the Departments of Labor and of the Treasury (Departments), took action to clarify protections for birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, most private health plans are required to provide birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost.
Awards to 36 grantees support President Biden’s Executive Orders on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and represent the largest outreach and enrollment investment ever made through Connecting Kids to Coverage program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), today awarded $49 million to organizations on the frontlines of reducing uninsured rates and connecting more children, parents, and families to health care coverage. In support of President Biden’s Executive Orders on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s priority of expanding access to affordable, quality health care, these awards represent the largest investment CMS has ever made in outreach and enrollment through the Connecting Kids to Coverage program.
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance and communication to ensure all patients — including pregnant women and others experiencing pregnancy loss — have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law. This announcement follows President Biden’s executive order on reproductive health issued Friday.
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. Nearly 50 years ago, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), articulated the United States Constitution’s protection of women’s fundamental right to make reproductive healthcare decisions. These deeply private decisions should not be subject to government interference. Yet today, fundamental rights — to privacy, autonomy, freedom, and equality — have been denied to millions of women across the country.
Former President Barack Obama will return to the White House on Tuesday for the first time since he left office to promote the Affordable Care Act in an event alongside President Joe Biden, a White House official said.
...Vice President Kamala Harris will join them in delivering remarks about the expansion of health care benefits under the law, as well as Biden’s efforts to further reduce health care costs and expand access to care, the official added.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and other members of the Cabinet, which includes a number of people who served in the Obama administration, are also expected to attend.
In the healthcare field, there are four areas addressed by Biden's XO: Prescription drugs, hearing aids, hospital consolidation and the ACA exchange marketplaces:
Prescription Drugs: Americans pay more than 2.5 times as much for the same prescription drugs as peer countries, and sometimes much more. Price increases continue to far surpass inflation. As a result, nearly one in four Americans report difficulties paying for medication, and nearly one in three Americans report not taking their medications as prescribed.
As expected, the healthcare section of President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress (technically not a State of the Union, but close enough) included a call for making the subsidies expanded under the American Rescue Plan permanent as part of the American Families Plan.
Also as expected, he did not call for other major healthcare reform priorities to be baked into the #AmFamPlan.
He did, however, spend significant time calling for those other priorities to be passed separately from the AFP...considerably more than he did on the subsidies themselves.
Before I get into the proposed healthcare policies: Early on in the speech, Biden gave a shout-out to his Administration for the success of the current, ongoing COVID Special Enrollment Period: