Biden signs health care executive actions to ‘undo the damage’ caused by Trump

President Biden on Thursday signed two executive actions focused on health care, describing the directives as a necessary effort to “undo the damage” done by former President Trump.

Biden signed an order directing federal agencies to open a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges from Feb. 15 to May 15 in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to review existing policies put in place under the Trump administration that limited access to health care.

Biden made protecting the ACA a key part of his presidential campaign as he and other Democrats accused Trump of sabotaging the health care law.

Open enrollment: The executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to open a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 through May 15, something the Trump administration refused to do, despite the pandemic. HHS will likely launch new advertising and outreach activities to go along with the special enrollment period — efforts that were essentially ended by the Trump administration.

Medicaid: Federal agencies are directed to review other policies from the prior administration that could “limit” access to health care, including Medicaid work requirements and policies that “undermine” the ACA or protections for people with preexisting conditions or make it more difficult to enroll in federal health programs.

Abortion funding: Biden told agencies to review the Trump administration’s controversial changes to the Title X family planning program, which provides contraception and other health services to low-income women and men. The changes required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding.

‘Global gag rule:’ Biden also signed a presidential memorandum rescinding the Mexico City policy which requires that foreign groups receiving family planning aid from the U.S. government agree not to provide or promote abortions, even with funding from other sources.