Biden’s policies on health care

The coronavirus pandemic is destined to define the early days of Joe Biden’s administration, as cases and deaths surge. The crisis also will give the 46th president an opportunity to address longstanding issues of health access and equity.

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(Photos by Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post, and Michael S. Williamson and Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

When Joe Biden takes office as the nation’s 46th president, the coronavirus pandemic will almost certainly remain at a desperately dark hour. Models from disease forecasters show cases and deaths continuing to surge.

The pandemic — the worst public health crisis in a century — is destined to define the early part of the Biden administration, which will confront decisions about distribution of vaccines and other measures designed to stanch the spread of the virus.

But much as the pandemic will leave an indelible mark on the lives of millions of Americans, it will inform for years to come decisions about problems besetting the health-care system: the cost of care, racial and ethnic disparities in access to care and health outcomes, and the tattered foundations of the public health network.

The quest to liberate the United States from the coronavirus crisis looms as Biden’s most immediate challenge, but it also presents a signal opportunity to address health issues that have bedeviled the nation for years.

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    The coronavirus pandemic
    Paige Thompson, a nurse, checks in on patient Rodney Hopp in the covid-19 ward at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa on Aug. 19.
    Paige Thompson, a nurse, checks in on patient Rodney Hopp in the covid-19 ward at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa on Aug. 19. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

    The crisis will be Biden’s greatest challenge — and opportunity

    By Amy Goldstein

    President-elect Joe Biden’s capacity to mold bipartisan support for receiving the coronavirus vaccine has implications for his broader health-care agenda of expanding insurance coverage and access to affordable care, health policy experts say.

    Affordable Care Act
    Nurse practitioner Daniel Lucas-Neel II checks Tom Quinn's temperature in April at a coronavirus testing site run by a free clinic in Charleston, W.Va. That clinic, West Virginia Health Right, reported an increase in people seeking help after they lost their jobs and their health insurance during the pandemic. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
    Nurse practitioner Daniel Lucas-Neel II checks Tom Quinn's temperature in April at a coronavirus testing site run by a free clinic in Charleston, W.Va. That clinic, West Virginia Health Right, reported an increase in people seeking help after they lost their jobs and their health insurance during the pandemic. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post) (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

    Biden team looks at expanding access to insurance marketplaces

    By Amy Goldstein

    President-elect Joe Biden has maintained that making it easier for people to turn to health plans under the Affordable Care Act would help buffer Americans who have lost work because of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic ripple effects and forfeited job-based health coverage as a result.

    A different epidemic
    A 2-week-old boy is being mentored in a neonatal intensive care unit's isolation room for opioid withdrawal at the CAMC Women and Children's Hospital on June 28, 2019, in Charleston, W.Va. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
    A 2-week-old boy is being mentored in a neonatal intensive care unit's isolation room for opioid withdrawal at the CAMC Women and Children's Hospital on June 28, 2019, in Charleston, W.Va. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

    When the coronavirus fades, Biden will confront a resurgent drug epidemic

    By Lenny Bernstein

    President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration has pledged to spend big to curb overdose deaths, the next looming public health crisis.

    Tackling inequities
    Sandy Brown, 60, of Flint, Mich., visits the bodies of her husband, Freddie Brown Jr., 59, and her son, Freddie Brown III, 20, both victims of covid-19, at Dodds-Dumanois Funeral Home in Flint on April 10. (Brittany Greeson for The Washington Post)
    Sandy Brown, 60, of Flint, Mich., visits the bodies of her husband, Freddie Brown Jr., 59, and her son, Freddie Brown III, 20, both victims of covid-19, at Dodds-Dumanois Funeral Home in Flint on April 10. (Brittany Greeson for The Washington Post)

    Biden prioritizes tackling racial and ethnic inequities during pandemic

    By Ariana Eunjung Cha

    Since the first wave of the coronavirus hit in March, public health officials have expressed alarm that Blacks, Latinos and other people of color are more likely to fall ill with covid-19 than their White counterparts — and more likely to die.

    Amy Goldstein is The Washington Post’s national health-care policy writer. During her three decades at The Post, her stories have taken her from homeless shelters to Air Force One, often focused on the intersection of politics and public policy. She is the author of "Janesville: An American Story."
    Ariana Eunjung Cha is a national reporter. She has previously served as The Post's bureau chief in Shanghai and San Francisco, and as a correspondent in Baghdad.
    Lenny Bernstein covers health and medicine. He started as an editor on The Washington Post’s National desk in 2000 and has worked in Metro and Sports.
    About this story

    Editing by Stephen Smith. Design and development by Tyler Remmel. Additional development by Lucio Villa and Junne Alcantara. Design editing by Greg Manifold and Virginia Singarayar. Photo editing by Bronwen Latimer. Copy editing by Carrie Camillo. Operations by María Sánchez Díez.