Biden Acts on Health Coverage, Racial Equity, Climate Change, and More

This week, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. issued a series of executive actions related to a wide array of subject areas, including racial equity, health coverage, climate change, manufacturing, and more. Below, we highlight the executive actions of most interest to CHEAC Members:

Health Access and Coverage

The Biden-Harris Administration issued two actions related to health access and coverage, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The two actions include:

  • Strengthening Medicaid and the ACA (Executive Order): Establishes a special enrollment period (SEP) for uninsured and underinsured Americans to gain health coverage through the federally facilitated marketplace between February 15 and May 15; directs specified agencies to review regulatory actions to determine if policies are inconsistent with the Administration’s policy of strengthening and protecting Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA); revokes certain ACA- and healthcare-related executive actions issued by the Trump Administration
    • Following President Biden’s executive order, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the availability of a special enrollment period; Covered California, applauding the Biden Administration’s move, similarly announced a state-based special enrollment period through May 15
  • Protecting Women’s Health (Memorandum): Rescinds the “Mexico City Policy” that bars U.S. federal funding to international agencies who provide counseling for or referral to abortion services; directs specified agencies to review regulatory changes to the Title X program to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health services

Racial Equity

President Biden issued four executive orders and memoranda seeking to advance racial equity in the United States, pointing to the need to end systemic racism and discrimination in the country’s economy, laws, and institutions that has disproportionately impacted Americans of color for generations. The four actions are detailed below:

  • Redressing Discriminatory Housing Policies and Practices (Memorandum): Acknowledges the federal government’s historic involvement in discriminatory housing policies and practices, including the systemic underinvestment in communities of color; directs specified agencies to examine recent regulatory actions
  • Strengthening Tribal Relationships (Memorandum): Directs specified agencies to undertake actions to strengthen tribal consultations and the relationship between the U.S. Government and tribal nations
  • Condemning and Combating Racism Against AAPIs (Memorandum): Condemns racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), particularly amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; directs specified agencies to issue guidance on advancing cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity toward AAPI populations in the federal government’s COVID-19 response; directs specified agencies to ensure agency actions do not contribute to racism, xenophobia, or intolerance against AAPIs

Climate Change and Science

The Biden Administration issued a series of sweeping actions related to climate change both domestically and internationally. The actions include:

  • Tackling the Climate Crisis (Executive Order): Acknowledges climate change as a crisis and requires climate considerations to be an essential element in any U.S. foreign policy and national security; directs the Department of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands; directs specified agencies to prepare a national intelligence estimate on security implications of the climate crisis; establishes the National Climate Task Force; commits to environmental justice for new, clean infrastructure projects; establishes development of an emissions reduction target; establishes the special envoy for climate on the National Security Council
  • Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking (Memorandum): Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to ensure scientific integrity across all federal agencies; directs specified agencies to designate senior agency employees as chief science officers to ensure research programs are scientifically and technologically sound