Healthcare policy priorities for the Biden administration – Soumya Upadhyay, Ph.D., MHA
In January 2021, the Biden administration took charge of a country that is fatigued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hurt due to domestic terrorism, and impacted with ongoing structural racism. Health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Given the current socio-political and economic situation in the United States, our citizens are bound to suffer from health issues both physical and mental. At this juncture, it becomes imperative for the Biden administration to open the channels for an effective and safe healthcare delivery for the peoples of America.
In the Trump era, restrictions on Medicaid expansion included work requirements and restraining the federal insurance program for support of Medicaid, which left many Americans especially in rural areas without coverage. Biden administration would have to step up to increase this coverage to underprivileged as well as individuals with pre-existing conditions. Amidst a never-ending pandemic, people have been mostly homebound, which has impacted the economy in the short term and led to job losses. The insurance marketplace brought forth by the Affordable Care Act should be made available for a longer period of time for people to purchase the insurance that they can afford and need. For instance, women who have outgrown the reproductive age, and do not need maternal coverage would have the option to choose less expensive coverage.
Health policy initiatives in the Biden era need to fasten the process of vaccine distribution, and ensure that the vaccine remains effective even against new variants of the corona virus. Ensuring that the vaccine is safe for developing kids would be a priority to help kids from K-12 return to school. Even after a large population is administered the vaccine, Biden administration would have to collaborate with states in ensuring that social distancing, wearing a mask, and hand washing are still practiced by individuals.
Access to mental health care delivery would gain from a financial impetus by the Biden administration. Telehealth deployment in rural areas for mental health services will need to be accelerated. Similarly, the VA would need to provide high quality mental health care for veterans. Substance abuse disorders including opioids overdose will need to be curtailed by investing in psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers. Reinstatement of the ACA would ensure that individuals with pre-existing conditions of mental health illness have access to health insurance coverage.
President Biden’s administration has onerous tasks ahead with respect to expanding coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans, defeating the pandemic and increasing access to mental health care. The $1.9 trillion rescue package reveals that he may be set to conquer the pandemic. Now is the time to make deep and long lasting changes, when his presidency has new influence.
Soumya Upadhyay, PhD, MHA, is an assistant professor at the Department of Healthcare Administration and Policy, School of Public Health. Dr. Upadhyay’s professional background includes Strategic Management Consultant at Kaiser Permanente, Performance Improvement Specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Clinical Data Analyst at Sutter Health. Prof. Upadhyay can be reached at 702-895-0375 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org