Author: Justine Handelman
As unexpected and unusual as 2020 has been, this year’s election was no exception. Yet amid the tumult, some things remained unchanged: healthcare once again continued to be a top priority for American voters. As we close out this momentous year, I’d like to look forward to 2021 and what we can expect in healthcare policy.
Unfortunately, we cannot talk about healthcare in 2021 without discussing COVID-19. The reality is that the pandemic will not disappear when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Day. President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that his focus is on controlling the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine is distributed nationwide.
Looking beyond the pandemic
I agree that combatting the coronavirus pandemic needs to be at the top of the incoming administration’s list. We need a renewed focus on preventing the spread of the virus, a robust testing program with contact tracing, and no-cost access to a safe and clinically-proven vaccine, all while ensuring affordable coverage and care.
Yet the conversation with the incoming administration cannot stop with the pandemic. As the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, lies with the Supreme Court, I expect the Biden administration will work quickly to bolster the ACA and expand coverage to make it easier for everyone to access the care they need. While this is, of course, especially important during a global public health crisis, it’s something Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have long supported. I would argue it is critical to the health of Americans, even when our nation is not battling a pandemic. The best path to covering everyone is expanding and enhancing the ACA, protecting people with pre-existing conditions and reducing costs for those purchasing coverage on the ACA marketplaces.
Removing barriers to care
Additionally, I anticipate the Biden team will focus on lowering prescription drug prices, expanding telehealth access and, finally, putting an end to surprise billing. These barriers to care impact people no matter where they live and can have costly – and sometimes dire – consequences. No one should have to choose between getting the care they need and paying the bills.
I think the new year will bring renewed energy in addressing the obstacles to care so many face. I’m looking forward to working with the incoming administration and Congress to improve healthcare access and affordability for everyone, no matter who you are, where you live or what your health condition may be.
About the BlueCross BlueShield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.