Former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his health care plan Monday, proposing new Obamacare subsidies and a “public option” to counter rising Democratic calls for a Medicare-for-All system.
Biden’s plan would create a public option, which would allow people to buy into a program his campaign claims would be “like Medicare,” with all primary care covered with no co-pays. Biden’s plan would also enroll 5 million Americans who have been eligible for Medicaid under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion but who live in states that have rejected the expansion.
Biden’s plan would also increase subsidies under Obamacare, making them available to everyone regardless of income. According to his campaign, no one would have to pay more than 8.5% of their income on Obamacare premiums.
The plan would also allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, create a commission to review drug pricing, and allow people to import drugs from other countries.
According to the Biden campaign, the plan would cost $750 billion over 10 years, which he proposed paying for by reversing the Trump 2017 tax cuts and increasing capital gains taxes on those making over $1 million per year.
Biden’s campaign described the plan as what Obama originally wanted before compromising with moderates and crafting what became his signature legislation.
"We're starting with the Affordable Care Act as the base and going to insist on the elements that we sought last time -- and we'll get them this time," a Biden campaign official told CNN.
Despite issuing a release arguing that “every American” deserves access to health care, the Biden campaign said his plan would only cover 97% of Americans.
Biden’s plan would do nothing to address main problem, health experts say:
Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Politico that Biden’s plan would be easier and quicker to implement than a Medicare-for-All system but added that incremental improvements to the Obamacare law would still leave “an inefficient and costly health care system in place,” leaving “high prices and high deductibles for the roughly 160 million Americans with employer-based health coverage.”
Matt Bruenig of the think-tank People’s Policy Project projected that Biden’s plan would cause “over 125,000 unnecessary deaths will occur from uninsurance” in its first 10 years.
“Even if you suppose that Biden’s estimate is right and the uninsurance rate does go to 3 percent, that still implies an enormous amount of unnecessary death caused by a lack of insurance. One commonly-used (e.g. by CAP) estimate states that 1 unnecessary death occurs annually for every 830 uninsured people. This means that during the first 10 years of Bidencare, over 125,000 unnecessary deaths will occur from uninsurance,” he wrote. “This is equivalent to the death toll of forty-two September 11 style attacks. Needless to say, this is not acceptable. No Democrat should be running on a health plan that does not provide universal coverage.”