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With the major media organizations now calling the presidential election and declaring former Vice President Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States, we wanted to provide forward-looking insights into the potential effects on employer-sponsored health plans.
What does an administration of Biden-Harris mean for employers and their employees?
Although health care received a great deal of attention during the democratic primary and a lot of discussions in the presidential debates, it is not on the list of immediate priorities released by the Biden-Harris transition team over the weekend. So we do not expect any immediate changes in the status quo.
When the Biden administration eventually turns its focus to healthcare, most experts do not predict significant effects on employer-sponsored health coverage and staff benefits. A primary reason for this view is the likelihood that we will continue to have a fragmented federal government. Control of the US Senate will come down to two diversionary elections in Georgia to be held on January 5, 2021; however, most politically savvy people project that Republicans are likely to retain control. The Democrats lost seats in the US House of Representatives but will retain control for the next two years. If Republicans retain control of the Senate, it will be very difficult for the Biden administration to pass any significant health care legislation in the first two years.
Another reason why we expect minimal impact on employer-sponsored coverage is that President-elect Biden made it very clear in the recent presidential debate that he did not want to make major changes to private insurance coverage. He stated, "… the reason I had such a struggle with 20 nominees was that I support private insurance. It is therefore. Not a single person with private insurance would lose their insurance according to my plan.
Elected President Biden is very proud of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when he worked with President Obama to legislate it. His goal under his "Biden-care" plan is to expand the ACA and build on the current structure; we do not expect this measure to have a very immediate impact on the group market.
There are some things that were part of the President-elect Biden's campaign platform that may have an indirect impact on group coverage. The most important items are a public alternative and Medicare purchases at age 60. These proposals will be very difficult to gain traction in a divided government. Other things we will continue to follow closely are eliminating balance and surprise billing, as well as attempts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
As always, we will continue to monitor all aspects of this situation, including any legal challenges facing the President. Trump's campaign and stay up to date on any items that may change these forecasts or affect you or your employees.