President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on supporting and building upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better managing the coronavirus pandemic and lowering prescription drug costs. However, with the political balance of the Senate uncertain, some Biden proposals, like creating a new public option and lowering the Medicare age to 60, are less likely to be enacted. Even so, as president, Biden could exercise executive branch authority to move forward on a variety of policy changes he has advocated through administrative action without Congress.
The KFF table includes potential administrative actions under the incoming Biden Administration, based on campaign pledges, and actions that would reverse or modify controversial regulations or guidance issued by the Trump Administration. The table also describes actions Biden could take as president that have received a great deal of attention from other prominent Democrats or are generally consistent with his campaign proposals, and that may therefore be priorities in Biden’s Administration. This table is not an exhaustive list of possible Biden Administration actions and does not include potential administrative actions pertaining to all health policy areas, including Medicare and prescription drug costs, where there is no clear indication of whether or how the Biden Administration would modify Trump Administration policies. If Biden’s health proposals are stymied by a divided Congress, he may look to use administrative actions beyond what’s detailed here to advance his health care agenda.
In this table, we note whether executive actions require regulatory change, as an indication of how much time it may take the Biden Administration to implement these changes. For some regulatory changes, the Biden Administration will need to issue a new Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and allow a public comment period before revising the regulation. Rules made through annual payment notices, such as the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) may be revised annually.
By contrast, the Biden Administration may more quickly be able to reverse Trump Administration regulations that are proposed but not yet final as well as policies made through sub-regulatory agency guidance or executive order. Some sub-regulatory actions, such as renewing the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration that is currently set to expire on Inauguration Day, will require attention on Biden’s first day in office. Biden would also likely rescind pending rules that would sunset HHS regulations if not reviewed every 10 years (which could increase administrative burden for the agency and result in regulations with beneficiary protections expiring).