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Biden signs executive actions on abortion policy, health care access

Biden signs executive orders on health care
Biden signs executive orders on health care 08:24

Washington — President Biden on Thursday signed a series of health care-related directives he described as reversing "the damage" done by former President Donald Trump, which including taking action to rescind and target anti-abortion rules.

"I'm not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law," Mr. Biden said in brief remarks from the Oval Office. 

The president said he is "restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring the Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president, which by fiat he changed, made more inaccessible, more expensive and more difficult for people to qualify for either of those two items."

Mr. Biden's executive order allows for, the federal health insurance marketplace, to open for a special enrollment period from February 15 to May 15, which will allow Americans more time to sign up for health insurance coverage. The order also directs federal agencies to review rules and policies to ensure they do not hinder Americans' access to health care, such as those that may reduce affordability of health coverage or undermine the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

President Biden signs a series of executive orders on health care, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, January 28, 2021, in Washington. Evan Vucci / AP

Mr. Biden also issued a presidential memorandum unwinding the Mexico City Policy, known as the global gag rule, which prohibits U.S. dollars from flowing to international non-governmental organizations that provide abortions, advocate to legalize and expand abortion access, or provide abortion counseling.

The rule dates back to 1984, under President Ronald Reagan, but has been revoked and reinstated by Democratic and Republican administrations, respectively. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama rescinded the policy, while Mr. Trump re-enacted and expanded it.

Mr. Biden's memorandum also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to review potentially dismantling a similar policy in the U.S. that bars money from Title X from going to health care centers that provide abortion services.

The president, who was vice president when Obamacare was enacted, vowed during his presidential campaign to protect and expand the 2010 health care law, as a group of Republican states and the Trump administration fought to kill Obamacare in a case pending before the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden has stressed that the coronavirus pandemic underscores the need for access to health care.

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