By Victor Reklaitis
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order that reopens HealthCare.gov, a federal marketplace that sells Affordable Care Act health-insurance plans, saying it’s a crucial move as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden’s latest order also lowered recent barriers to getting Medicaid, and he signed a proclamation that lifts certain restrictions on abortion funding in the U.S. and overseas.
Thursday’s executive actions “undo the damage Trump has done,” the new president said at the White House just before signing the official documents. “There’s nothing new that we’re doing here, other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring the Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is now expected to open HealthCare.gov for a “special enrollment period” from Feb. 15 through May 15. Usually signing up for coverage is restricted outside of an “open enrollment” period that stretches over a few weeks in November and December.
Biden’s agenda for health care /zigman2/quotes/205918244/composite XLV +1.10% has long centered on building on the ACA, also known as Obamacare, which overhauled the U.S. medical system a decade ago, when he was serving as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.
Thursday’s memorandum jettisons the “Mexico City Policy,” which requires that foreign organizations certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion” if they receive U.S. taxpayer money.
The policy has been a political football , tossed out by Democratic presidents and picked up by Republicans. The memorandum also directs HHS to immediately consider rescinding a Trump-era rule that blocks providers in the federally funded Title X family planning program from referring patients for abortions.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, told reporters on Wednesday that Biden’s moves this week related to abortion are “a great start, one that will increase access and meaningfully impact people’s lives, but I’ll emphasize again, this is a start.”
Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups criticized the president.
“Funneling U.S. tax dollars to abortion groups overseas is an abhorrent practice that flies in the face of the ‘unity’ Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised to inspire,” said Susan B. Anthony List’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement .