Sep 27, 2021 - Health

Health policies at stake in Democrats' infrastructure bet

Illustration of falling coins and pills

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democrats are at a pivotal moment in their quest to expand health care coverage, slash the cost of prescription drugs and create a social structure that prioritizes people's health.

Driving the news: Democrats have a clear list of health care priorities they'll be fighting for this week. Among them is a measure to expand Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits.

  • Another piece would address the overall price of many drugs — including insulin — and a new cap would be placed on how much seniors pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.

Why it matters: Millions of low-income people in states that haven't expanded Medicaid — including a disproportionate share of people of color in the South — would gain access to free health coverage.

  • Aspects of Democrats' plans dealing with Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act could reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 7 million in 2022 alone, according to one estimate.

Between the lines: Major health care impacts could also come from other areas of the infrastructure bill, including paid family leave.

  • Biden's plans call for 12 weeks of paid family leave to tend to a sick family member and for an additional $400 billion to expand comfort and care for elderly Americans.
  • The bill includes expansions of broadband access that could not only enable people of all means to work and study from anywhere — but to access internet capable of video telehealth visits.

Go deeper: The huge stakes of Biden's infrastructure bet

Go deeper