By Ken Perez, vice president of healthcare policy, Omnicell, Inc.
If one asks the average American what is former Vice President Joe Biden’s healthcare plan, it’s likely that they will say it is about restoring the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and some may mention the idea of a public option —Medicare or something like Medicare made available to more people.
Those high-level impressions are certainly accurate. Biden’s official campaign website quotes the presidential candidate as saying, “We have to protect and build on Obamacare,” and Biden’s current policy stances touch upon the ACA’s three main areas of focus: access, quality and cost.
Biden’s plan for healthcare has been best articulated in two documents. First, negotiations during June with representatives of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) produced the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations,” a 110-page document which was released in early July. Second, the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, a 92-page document, was approved by the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee on July 27 and adopted during the 2020 Democratic National Convention in mid-August.
As was the case with the ACA, both documents affirm healthcare as a human right, advocating “free or low-cost healthcare coverage for every American, including by expanding Medicaid, subsidizing employer health insurance for people who lose their jobs, and offering a high-quality low or no-cost public option available without a deductible and with automatic enrollment for those who qualify throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”1
In general, expanding coverage benefits hospitals by reducing bad debt expense, which for U.S. hospitals averaged 1.73% of revenue in 2018.2 According to Rich Umbdenstock, former president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA), the hospital industry agreed to support the ACA because the Obama administration and Congress promised that at least 97% of Americans would have healthcare coverage.3 In like manner, the Biden healthcare plan’s promise to increase access and expand coverage make it attractive to the hospital industry.