We the Patients

50 Days of Health Care Change

It’s been a bit longer than 50 days since Joe Biden became President. How’s he changed health care? And how has he held up against his campaign promises? Let’s take a quick look through!

First, what’s he done? It’s been 50 days, after all.

Great question! So far, it’s mostly been executive orders, although there has been one big bill passed. That bill – the Covid relief bill– included a lot of important provisions. In quick summary: The bill boosted unemployment benefits, provided additional stimulus checks to households, added money to education budgets, included help for restaurants and small businesses, prevented transit cuts, helped local and state governments with budget crunches, set up a national testing strategy, helped support pension funds, and included funds for vaccine administration.

President Biden also issued executive orders to rejoin the World Health Organization, empower a Covid-19 Response Coordinator, require mask-wearing on federal property, speed up vaccine production, establish a Covid-19 Equity Task Force, reopen ACA marketplaces for people in need of health coverage, and protect the environment. Executive orders are much easier than passing bills or appointing nominees, but on the other hand, they tend to get stuck in court– though so far, things are looking good.

Additionally, the vaccine distribution process has sped up. Today, the US averages about 2.4 million shots a day! That’s a huge improvement since President Biden came into office. We’ve already seen over 100,000,000 shots administered, which is a big deal. There are still serious questions about how every American will get vaccinated, but there’s been real progress.

Wait, that’s it? It’s been 50 days!

A fair question! Part of the problem here is how narrow the House and Senate majorities are. If a single Democratic Party senator disagrees with Biden, that senator could tank the whole bill or nomination. If 3 Democratic Party representatives disagree with Biden, that bill can’t get out of the House. We’ve already seen this happen, and it slowed down some of the most important legislative work as a result. That’s not even touching on weird procedural rules, like the Byrd Rule or the filibuster, that make it hard to legislate. We’re hoping for more, too, but right now, everything in DC is a close vote– and it’s holding things up big-time.

Of course, 50 days is not a long time– it’s only half the first 100 days, the period where Presidents usually try to jam in accomplishments! As things change, we’ll keep you posted.