With Joe Biden’s inauguration as president this week, discussion of what to expect in his administration has been obscured by ongoing debate over the election itself.
Since it passed Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, Congress has shown a reluctance to make significant reforms in health policy. Major changes have been the result of court decisions, and smaller changes largely have been the work of executive action by presidents.
President Donald Trump spent significant time undoing executive actions by President Barack Obama, and we should expect a return to the Obama administration policies from Biden.
Here is a small sample of what we should expect the new administration to do, based on statements from the Biden campaign.
1. Restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Policy experts predict Biden will reissue guidance requiring states to allow abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood to participate in state-run Medicaid programs. He also is expected to reverse a Trump administration rule preventing abortion centers from accessing federal Title X funds.
2. Rescind the Mexico City policy. The so-called Mexico City policy prohibits U.S. tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions overseas. Obama rescinded the policy originally created by President Ronald Reagan, but Trump reinstated it. According to Biden’s “agenda for women,” the new president will rescind the policy so that U.S. taxpayers once again fund abortion groups that promote abortion overseas.
3. Restore contraception mandates. The Trump administration provided individuals and employers with relief from the Obamacare mandate requiring health plans to pay for contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs. Biden is expected to eliminate the moral and religious exemptions that made that relief possible. This would result in tens of millions of dollars in fines on charities such as the Little Sisters of the Poor.
4. Reverse the military’s transgender ban. The Trump administration banned from military service those who identify as transgender, stating that their unique challenges interfered with the goals of military readiness. Biden likely will overturn this policy so that the military will pay for gender reassignments for service members and keep those going through a sex change on active duty.
5. Guarantee access to facilities based on gender identity in schools. The Trump administration allowed schools to make their own rules regarding use of school facilities, permitting policies that limit private areas to biological boys or biological girls. The Biden administration is expected to return to the policies of the Obama administration and pressure local schools to allow access to restrooms and locker rooms based on a student’s gender identity rather than sex.
6. Require anyone requesting grant funds to adopt the progressive view of sex, gender, and marriage. The Trump administration prohibited the U.S. government from discriminating against grant applicants because of their religious beliefs. As a result, religious foster care agencies, adoption agencies, and homeless shelters could compete for federal grants on equal footing with others. The Biden administration, however, is expected to create rules that will disqualify any entity that believes marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, that sex cannot change, or that children do best with both a mother and father in their lives.
7. Revoke conscience protections for health care providers. Trump administration policies enforced federal law to protect health care providers from being required to perform abortions or gender reassignment surgeries, or to dispense drugs in violation of their conscience or best medical judgment. The Biden administration likely will revoke these protections that help medical providers to offer services according to their conscience.
In some ways, the first year of the Biden administration may feel like the ninth year of the Obama administration. Some key differences will be apparent, though. In the past four years, the left has moved further left.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her allies in the House are, in many ways, the standard-bearers for the left. Although Biden’s instincts may not be far to the left, Vice President Kamala Harris, of California, was rated as the most liberal member of the Senate by GovTrack.us.
Something else changed in the past four years as well: Trump appointed three new justices to the Supreme Court.
For those who are concerned about the implications of Biden’s executive orders and narrow Democrat majorities in Congress, the Supreme Court may represent the best defense against two years of one-party control.
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