Jul 15, 2019

Joe Biden unveils his health care plan

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Joe Biden rolled out a health care plan Monday whose policies and political priorities are both rooted firmly in the Affordable Care Act.

Details: The cornerstone of Biden's proposal is a new public insurance option, which would compete alongside private insurance. The public plan would be available to everyone, even people who get their coverage from an employer. That's an important difference from the one that was debated in 2010.

  • Biden also would make the ACA's premium subsides more generous and more widely available.

On cost control, the plan would give Medicare the power to directly negotiate drug prices and establish a new board to determine a fair price for new, first-in-class drugs.

  • Drugmakers would also have to pay a tax if they raise their prices above inflation.
  • There's a proposal to end surprise hospital billing, but otherwise not a lot in there on hospital costs.

One potential controversy: Biden's new public option would automatically take the place of the Medicaid expansion in states that haven't expanded.

  • States that have expanded would have to keep paying their share of the bill for the expansion.
  • In other words, non-expansion states would get a better deal than those that participated in the expansion — arguably, rewarding their resistance to the ACA.

The bottom line: Health care may be the most defining substantive policy disagreement among the 2020 field.

  • Biden's proposal is more ambitious than anything that was seriously on the table during the ACA debate, but looks decidedly moderate compared to Bernie Sanders' plan — which is significantly more ambitious than almost any other health care system in the world.

Go deeper: Joe Biden on the issues, in under 500 words

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What Democrats are doing on health care

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As Democratic presidential candidates debate their ideal health care system, blue states are making incremental — yet significant — changes to the existing one.

Why it matters: In the states where they have power, Democrats are creating a blueprint for how the ACA could evolve under Democratic control in Washington.

Go deeperArrowJul 31, 2019

The health care debate Democrats aren't having

Candidates at the Democratic debate in Detroit. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tuesday night's field of presidential candidates fought in 30-second soundbites over the merits of single payer Medicare for All versus a public option.

Yes, but: None of the candidates moved beyond sparring over insurance reforms to address the underlying reason why people are having so much trouble affording their health care, which is that health care services keep getting more expensive.

Go deeperArrowJul 31, 2019

Debate night: Harris and Biden go head-to-head

Biden and Harris meet on-stage on July 31, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden greeted Sen. Kamala Harris on the debate stage Wednesday with a request: "Go easy on me, kid."

For the record: 5 senior campaign officials told Axios' Alexi McCammond that Biden was "ready to throw down" on Wednesday, after Harris' took control at the first Democratic debates in Miami. Harris and Biden went head-to-head tonight on these issues:

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 1, 2019