Joe Biden’s Health Care Plan Focuses on Shoring Up the Affordable Care Act

After remaining vague for months about his plans to expand on the Affordable Care Act, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is planning to offer more details in a speech Monday, including changes to the law that would let more people get subsidies to help pay for their health insurance and reduce the maximum percentage of income they would have to spend on premiums.

Mr. Biden, who has led the Democratic presidential field in the first months of the race, is setting himself apart from other leading candidates by calling for improving the 2010 health law, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy, instead of replacing it with a single-payer system that would essentially eliminate private health coverage.

He has argued that the country cannot afford to go down a policy path that involves replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a more sweeping overhaul of the insurance system that he says would prove impossible to achieve in the short term. He will be introducing the new details of his health plan on Monday at a candidate forum sponsored by AARP, the lobby for older Americans, who are a large part of Mr. Biden’s base.

For weeks, Mr. Biden has been previewing parts of his health care platform, particularly his plan to create a “public option,” or government-run health plan like Medicare, for all Americans. Such a plan would compete with private insurers and potentially drive down prices while letting people choose private insurance, either through a job or on the individual market, if they prefer.

Many of Mr. Biden’s leading rivals, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, favor the single-payer system, which has come to be known as “Medicare for all.” Mr. Biden attacked that plan over the weekend, citing its $3 trillion price tag and saying it would raise taxes on the middle class.

Mr. Sanders, in response, said Mr. Biden was “ignoring the fact that people will save money on their health care because they will no longer have to pay premiums or out-of-pocket expenses.”

[Here’s where all the Democratic 2020 candidates stand on Medicare for all.]

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, officials with the Biden campaign said his plan would cost $750 billion over 10 years and would be financed by rolling back the $1.5 trillion tax cut Congress passed last year and doubling the tax rate on capital gains for the wealthiest Americans, those with annual incomes of more than $1 million.

The campaign officials emphasized how hard it was for Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, his vice president, to get the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010. “It took a century of presidents thinking about and pushing for health reform before Obama and Biden were able to get it done,” one official said.

They also pushed back against the idea, promoted by Mr. Sanders and others pushing Medicare for all, that the law is a “half measure” that left many without coverage or with coverage they could not use because their out-of-pocket costs were too high.

“You’ll see him make a case about the urgency of now — that starting over from scratch isn’t the best way to help people in this country who need more affordable coverage,” one campaign official said, adding that Mr. Biden’s position was “a strong contrast with Medicare for all.”

The officials also said Mr. Biden would roll out additional pieces of his health care plan over the coming months, including proposals to reduce gun violence and address cancer, diabetes, addiction and Alzheimer’s disease.

Perhaps the most significant piece of Mr. Biden’s health care plan, which he had previously discussed, would provide free insurance coverage through a public option to all low-income adults in 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. There are roughly 2.5 million poor uninsured adults in those states who would qualify for Medicaid if their governors and legislatures, which are largely Republican, had allowed it.

“This would be a huge boost to poor people in states that have not expanded Medicaid, who are today left with no options at all to get affordable health coverage,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But Mr. Levitt said Mr. Biden’s plan could also have “the unintended consequence of encouraging some states that have already expanded Medicaid to pull back.” Under the Affordable Care Act, states will pay about 10 percent of the cost of expanded Medicaid moving forward, while the federal government will pay 90 percent.

Mr. Biden’s plan, which bears many similarities to Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal in 2016, could also help middle-class Americans who rely on the individual market for health insurance but have paid a high price because they do not qualify for the law’s premium subsidies. Those people have felt the most financial pain from premium increases.

“Extending subsidies to those left out of the system today could help people a lot,” Mr. Levitt said, “especially those who are older and in rural areas, where premiums are the highest.”

He added, however, “Obviously, the details matter.”

Another Biden proposal that could help the middle class would allow people with government subsidies to buy “gold” plans through the Obamacare marketplaces, which generally have lower deductibles than the “silver” plans they are currently required to buy.

His plan would also require that no one buying insurance on the individual market spend more than 8.5 percent of their income on their premiums. Currently, under the health law, the limit is 9.86 percent.

Asked if Mr. Biden had a contingency plan in case the Affordable Care Act is thrown out by the courts — a distinct possibility since a district court judge in Texas has already invalidated it and the case is being appealed — the campaign officials said he was expecting the law to be upheld.

They did not directly answer a question about how many of Mr. Biden’s proposals would need approval from Congress. Instead, they said, his “longstanding history of getting stuff done” in Congress would help ensure he could carry out his plans.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Putting a Positive Spin on Oil Exploration in the Arctic Refuge

    When the Trump administration first pushed.

  • On Politics: Trump Returns to N.R.A.’s Side

    Gun rights advocates have waged an.

  • President Trump Cancels Trip to Denmark After Greenland Spat

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday.

  • Why the 2020 Criminal Justice Debate Is Completely Different

    Marijuana would be decriminalized, mass incarceration.

  • As Wildfires Get Worse, Insurers Pull Back From Riskiest Areas

    “It’s not necessarily the property that’s.

  • Julián Castro Qualifies for the Next Democratic Debate

    The former housing secretary Julián Castro.

  • Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray

    That means the process is now.

  • On Politics: Trump Prepares for Economic Trouble

    • Justice Department lawyers told the.

  • Jill Biden, Stressing Trump Matchup, Makes a Blunt Case for Her Husband

    Jill Biden laid out the political.

  • Apologies and Scorn Greet News of a Book by Mark Halperin

    Reports of a new book deal.

  • ‘I Am Sorry for Harm I Have Caused,’ Warren Tells Native American Forum – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Elizabeth Warren to Appear at Native American Forum

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Senator Elizabeth.

  • ‘I Can Still Smell Him’: For 4 Legislators, This Law Is Personal

    Yuh-Line Niou told no one for.

  • On Politics: Trump’s Economic Conspiracy

    As the economy shows ominous signs,.

  • In Economic Warning Signals, Trump Sees Signs of a Conspiracy

    And signs of damage from Mr..

  • Julián Castro’s Obama Moment – The New York Times

    Mr. Castro divided his remarks into.

  • After Trump Body Shames Him, Supporter Says ‘I Love the Guy’

    Sometimes the self-declared greatest counterpuncher in.

  • U.S. Can Block Migrants Seeking Asylum, but Only in Some States, Appeals Court Rules

    A federal appeals court said Friday.

  • House Panel Will End Recess Early for Gun Safety Votes

    WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee,.

  • Lawmakers Accuse State Dept. of Defying Federal Law by Missing Deadlines for Yemen Reports

    WASHINGTON — In defiance of federal.

  • Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal

    Skeptics say it is naïve to.

  • Trump’s Pittsburgh Speech Was a Paying Gig for Audience

    Thousands of union workers at a.

  • How Stephen Miller Rode an Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House

    Once a lonely cause, restrictionism had.

  • Israel’s Alliance With Trump Creates New Tensions Among American Jews

    A rabbi in St. Louis Park,.

  • In D.C., Trading Politics for a Paddle

    We launched into the Potomac River.

  • Joseph Kennedy III Said to Be Eying Edward Markey’s Massachusetts Senate Seat

    Mr. Kennedy delivered the Democratic response.

  • Eyeing Greenland, Trump Again Mixes Real Estate With Diplomacy

    WASHINGTON — Go ahead and file.

  • Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights

    WASHINGTON — Roya Rahmani is neither.

  • After Trump Body Shames Him, Supporter Says ‘I Love the Guy’

    Sometimes the self-declared greatest counterpuncher in.

  • Fact-Checking Trump’s New Hampshire Rally

    What Trump Said “We have incredible.

  • Israel Says Rashida Tlaib Can Visit to See Her Grandmother

    This is a developing story. Please.

  • On Politics: Israel Denies Entry to Congresswomen

    • Despite ringing declarations of support.