What Biden Presidency Means for Home Care
This past weekend, Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared President-Elect, signaling a new direction for the country. Within 24 hours, the Biden/Harris campaign launched its plan outlining the Administration’s four priorities as they prepare for the transition of power in January:
President-Elect Biden’s main priority will be controlling the spread of COVID-19 with several initiatives focusing on the most vulnerable population to the virus, protecting frontline workers, and ensuring the government’s support of small businesses.
The Biden Administration and Congress - A Balancing Act
As in 2016, the pollsters were off on their predictions of how the race for the White House and for the House and Senate would end up in 2020. Many pundits had former Vice President Biden winning by double digits - a far cry from the final outcome. Also, they had Democrats making significant gains in the House and Senate. The reality was that Democrats lost seats in the House and may manage to net one additional seat in the Senate when all is said and done. Republicans did much better in the polls than many had expected and this will have an impact on any agenda the new Biden/Harris Administration will be able to put forward.
At the same time, winning two Senate runoffs in Georgia on January 5 could give Democrats the majority in the Senate and restore some of the agenda items that may be less feasible in a divided Congress. This will be a difficult task in the historically Republican state.
As noted above, President-Elect Biden’s first priority is to address the pandemic and its impact on the economy. The current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says passing virus relief is his top priority when Congress returns to work this month, but it's unlikely Republicans will raise their offer. It remains to be seen whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump can reach a compromise now that the elections are over if not completely litigated to their end.
The Democrats in the House of Representatives may have their own drama to contend with in January - the election of the Speaker of the House. Losing seats in the House means that only a few Democrats can defect when it comes time to vote for the Speaker of the House. Rep. Pelosi will need 218 votes in the full House.
With his more-than-four decades of experience in Washington, including six Senate terms, many expect President-Elect Biden to have good relations with the Congress and be able to strike necessary compromises. Such compromises are also likely to stoke strong concerns from progressive wings of the Democratic party.
What We’re Doing at HCAOA
In the coming weeks and months, HCAOA plans to submit issue briefs and position papers to the Biden/Harris transition team to inform them about the home care industry, the value we bring to health care, and how our industry is well-positioned to meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities, especially during the pandemic.
Also, as you likely have heard by now, Pfizer announced yesterday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 million to 20 million people, company executives have said. HCAOA is closely monitoring individual state’s vaccine plans, which were due to CMS this month, to ensure that home care workers are prioritized for vaccines.
The Biden/Harris Administration has outlined several initiatives that could mean greater opportunities for home care, including access to home and community-based services, ending the institutional bias in the Medicaid program, and permanent reauthorization of Money Follows the Person program.