Joe Biden on Health Care

Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Public option is not socialism

Q: Your healthcare plan includes a government insurance option. Does that take the country one step closer to a healthcare system run entirely by the government?

BIDEN: I say it's ridiculous. It's like saying that the fact that there's a public option that people can choose, that makes it a socialist plan? Look, the difference between the president and me: I think healthcare is not a privilege, it's a right. Everyone should have the right to have affordable healthcare, and I am very proud of my plan.

TRUMP: He wants socialized medicine. His vice president, she wants it even more. The Democrats want it. You're going to have socialized medicine.

BIDEN: People deserve to have affordable healthcare, period. Period, period, period. And the Biden care proposal will in fact provide for that affordable healthcare. What we're going to do is going to cost some money. It's going to cost over $750 billion over 10 years to do it. And they're going to have lower premiums.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

President must tell whole truth about his health

Biden says he would be transparent about his health as president, but he offered some potential caveats. Biden said that "you have to tell the whole truth" about your health as president but not necessarily "moment to moment" as a health scare plays out. Asked whether he'd ever hold back some part of his health status, Biden said he do it "only on the margins and only for the moment."
Source: WREX-13 NBC-TV coverage of 2020 NBC News Town Hall , Oct 5, 2020

Allow serious return on investment in new drugs, not gouging

Q: Your drug pricing policy?

BIDEN: What I proposed is that for every new drug coming on the market--everything from dementia drugs to Alzheimer's to cancer to diabetes--we're going to put together a 25-person commission of scientific experts, and every new drug you're seeking approval of will go before that commission. And you are going to indicate how much you invested to provide that drug. You'll get a serious return on your investment, but once that price is set, that's the only price you can sell it for, or you're not going to get the drug approved. Once that is done, then you cannot come along and up the price exponentially. You can only up the price once it's set through inflation or if you can demonstrate there has been something specifically done to improve the drug. The American public understands that there is so much price gouging for things that should be a basic right to access--things that allow you to live.

Source: AARP Survey on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Sep 28, 2020

We can beat cancer: invest more money in research

BIDEN: We can beat cancer. The president allowed me to run the Cancer Moonshot. I visited virtually every major cancer research facility in the world. One of the things that came out of that was that there are a number of brilliant researchers and clinicians, but they didn't talk to each other very much. They didn't share data very much. I truly believe we're going to invest considerably more money in research and NIH and make a major, major effort, because we can fundamentally change cancer.
Source: ABC This Week 2020 National Convention Biden/Harris Q&A , Aug 23, 2020

COVID19: make sure there's free testing & free treatment

[The next recovery package] will have to provide health care coverage for millions who lose their insurance, by allowing them to stay on their health care plans and covering the cost, as well as reopening enrollment for ObamaCare and creating the public option I've been calling for. And we must--must--make sure not only that every American can be tested for coronavirus free of cost, but also make sure every American can be treated for coronavirus free of cost. Period.
Source: Medium.com blog on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 9, 2020

Lower Medicare eligibility age to 60

I have directed my team to develop a plan to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60. Medicare benefits would be provided to them as they are to current Medicare recipients. This would make Medicare available to a set of Americans who work hard and retire before they turn 65, or who would prefer to leave their employer plans or other plans before they retire. It reflects the reality that, even after the current crisis ends, older Americans are likely to find it difficult to secure jobs.
Source: Medium.com blog on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 9, 2020

Public option for ObamaCare; $50 billion for research

Q: How do you plan to fix the Affordable Care Act's problems?

BIDEN: I would restore all the cuts this president has made in the Affordable Care Act, across the board. I add what they call a public option, and that is a Medicare-like option. If you wanted to buy into that option or if you didn't have the money, you would be able to get it for free. So it's Medicare if you want it. If you qualify for Medicaid and you don't have it in your state, you're automatically enrolled. There is no waiting for anything.

Secondly, we make sure we reduce drug prices, as well, allowing Medicare to be able to negotiate with the drug companies the cost of drugs. And I would invest over $50 billion to focus on the diseases that cause the most damage and cost the most--cancer, Alzheimer's, and obesity.

We should have a department that says what we're going to do is spend the money needed that the drug companies are unwilling to spend or unable to spend to make sure that we find cures.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 with Anderson Cooper , Feb 20, 2020

Got ObamaCare passed and will expand it

I'm the guy the president turned to and said, go get the votes for ObamaCare. And I notice what everybody's talking about is the plan that I first introduced. That is to go and add to ObamaCare, provide a public option, a Medicare-like option. And increase the subsidies. It cost a lot of money. It cost $750 billion over 10 years. But I paid for it by making sure that Mike and other people pay at the same tax rate their secretary pays at.
Source: 9th Democrat 2020 primary debate, in Las Vegas Nevada , Feb 19, 2020

My Medicare if you want it plan is affordable

My proposal gives you a choice. You're going to be covered. You have prescription prices, reduce copays, et cetera. And it cost a lot of money, it costs $750 billion over 10 years. I tell you how I'm going to pay for it. I'm going to raise the capital gains rates
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Biden Cancer Initiative: data from multiple researchers

I believe we can cure some cancers and make other cancers a chronic disease. [In 2017,] I left office and set up the Biden Cancer Initiative. Docs don't play well in the sandbox together. It's not that they don't work like the devil. They work hard. But now we can do a million, billion calculations a second. We're in a position where we can exchange information that's real. And what I was able to do with the Cancer Initiative was to turn this from an objective into a movement. We're learning that there may be multiple drugs needed to deal with a particular strain of cancer, just like with AIDS. But the idea of getting folks working on the same cancer strain to give you their information is almost zero. So I suggested, assign a numerical value to the effort you have underway, if you put your research on the table, and then we find a cure, it's worth 28% of whatever we do, yours is 17%, and go down the list. If, in fact, you get a cure for a particular drug, you get 28% or you get 16%.
Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 5, 2020

Tax capital gains at bracket levels to pay for health plan

Q: The Affordable Care Act has been gutted, most notably the individual mandate.

BIDEN: I'm going to restore the cuts, reduce out-of-pocket expenses and premiums, and add a Medicare option for those who want it. If you have private insurance, and you like it, keep it. If they cancel the policy, you can buy into the Biden plan. I'm adding $1 billion for dealing with drug abuse and opioids. I can pay for it by making sure people pay their capital gains at whatever their tax rate is.

Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 5, 2020

Invest $50B in new agency to fight cancer

When I was asked to put together this cancer initiative, they asked why I brought in NASA. Guess who knows more about radiation than anybody in the world? We have a thing called DARPA, the defense agency. They came up with geo-positioning, and a whole range of other things. It's a separate agency, works on specific programs that will impact defense capabilities. I want to do the same thing for the Department of Health and provide ARPA [for health] and invest $50 billion in that agency.
Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 5, 2020

Medicare-for-all plan costs $30 trillion & will raise taxes

Sen. Bernie Sanders [to V.P. Biden]: Joe, you asked me how are we going to pay for [my healthcare plan]? Under your plan, I'll tell you how we're paying for right now. The average family makes $60,000 a year, and pays $12,000 a year for health care--20% of their income. Under Medicare-for-all that family will be paying $1,200 a year.

Joe Biden: [Sen. Sanders' healthcare plan] costs $30 trillion. Let's get that straight--$30 trillion over 10 years. The idea that you're going to be able to save that person making $60,000 a year on Medicare-for-all is preposterous. 16% of the American public is on Medicare now and everybody has a tax taken out of their paycheck now. Tell me, you're going to add 84% more and it's not going to be higher taxes, at least before he was honest about it. It's going to increase personal taxes.

Sanders: That's right. We got to increase personal taxes, but we're eliminating premiums, we're eliminating copayments, we're eliminating deductibles.

Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate , Dec 19, 2019

Straightforward approach on healthcare, not ten year plans

Q [to Senator Harris]: This week you released a new health care plan which would preserve private insurance and take 10 years to phase in. Biden's campaign calls your plan "a have-it-every-which-way approach" and says it's part of a confusing pattern of equivocating about your health care stance. Your response?

HARRIS: I have been listening to American families, who said four years is just not enough to transition into this new plan, so I devised a plan where it's going to be 10 years of a transition. I listened to American families who said I want an option that will be under your Medicare system that allows a private plan.

BIDEN: Any time someone tells you you're going to get something good in 10 years, you should wonder why it takes 10 years. And the plan in 10 years will cost $3 trillion. You will lose your employer-based insurance. This is the single most important issue facing the public. And to be very straightforward, you can't beat President Trump with double-talk on this plan.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Limit co-pays to $1,000; keep your own insurance

Sen. Kamala Harris: Your plan will keep and allow insurance companies to remain with status quo, doing business as usual.

Biden: My plan makes a limit of co-pay to be $1,000, because we further support the ability to buy into ObamaCare. No one has to keep their private insurance, but if they like their insurance, they should be able to keep it. Nothing is demanded in my plan that there be private insurance. If the 160 million who have it like their employer insurance, they should have a right to have it. If they don't, they can buy into the Biden plan.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Future of healthcare is biopharma; control those prices

Sen. Kamala Harris: By your own definition, as many as 10 million people will not have access to healthcare. For a Democrat to be running for president with a plan that does not cover everyone, I think is without excuse.

Biden: My plan will cover everyone. Number two, the fact is that my plan also calls for controlling drug prices. Biopharma is now where things are going to go. It's no longer chemicals. It's about all these breakthroughs that we have with the immune system. What we have to do is have a form that says, as you develop a drug, you got to come to us and decide what you can sell it for. We will set the price. And secondly, you cannot raise that price beyond the cost of inflation from this point on.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

I have only plan limiting insurance companies

Sen. Kamala Harris: Under your plan, you do nothing to hold the insurance companies to task for what they have been doing to American families.

Biden: I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail for the $9 billion opioids they sell out there.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Cover undocumented immigrants to reduce overall cost of care

You cannot let people who are sick, no matter where they come from, no matter what their status, go uncovered. It's the humane thing to do. They've increased the lifespan of Social Security because they have a job, they're paying a Social Security tax. They do the same thing in terms of reducing the overall cost of health care by being able to be treated and not wait until they are in extremis.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

National effort to cure cancer by genomics

[After his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015] , Joe opened up about his grief on television. "Sometimes it just sort of overwhelms you," he said. "[There are] so many people who have losses as severe, or maybe worse, than mine, and don't have the with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer'" Obama said. "Tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And I'm putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all."

In June 2016, Biden unveiled the federal Genomic Data Commons--a database for consolidating all the key clinical trials, stats, and treatments [among other actions on the "Cancer Moonshot"].

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p.165-6 , Oct 24, 2017

Increased funding for NIH to highest level in a decade

President Obama: "Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn't deny Sputnik was up there. We didn't argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.

"You know, last year, Vice President Biden said that, with a new moon-shot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they've had in over a decade. .

"So tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he's gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I'm putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the families that we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let's make it happen. And medical research is critical."

Source: 2016 State of the Union address , Jan 12, 2016

Moonshot on cancer: increase resources, cooperation

I called for a "moonshot" to cure cancer. I plan to do two things.
  1. Increase resources--both private and public--to fight cancer.
  2. Break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together--to work together, share information, and end cancer as we know it.
And the goal of this initiative is simple--to double the rate of progress. We'll encourage leading cancer centers to reach unprecedented levels of cooperation, so we can learn more about this disease and how to stop it in its tracks.
Source: Medium.com blog by V.P. Biden , Jan 12, 2016

Modernize, simplify & expand health insurance

His plan for dealing with the healthcare crisis is vague to nonexistent, with references to containing costs by “modernizing” and “simplifying” the system; “expanding” health insurance; and looking at “innovative alternatives” pioneered by the states to “evaluate what works best in providing affordable access to healthcare for all.”
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180 , Nov 11, 2007

Help medical students find ways to finance their tuition

You got to help them pay off their education. They start off in the hole. They graduate and have these gigantic bills, 40,000 bucks a year. They graduate hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You got to give them ability to write that off if they engage in public service, move into areas where they need doctors, and get the insurance company out of looking over their shoulders & everything. They know the decisions to make and what they should be doing. They should be rewarded for their decisions.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Rethink healthcare by focusing on prevention

Q: Do we need to fundamentally rethink the way we view health care?

A: Absolutely. We have to view it in three ways. Prevention. You know, an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure is real. We virtually do not have anything that rewards those people who are engaged in their physician’s or insurer’s companies that emphasize prevention. The second thing we have to do is we have to provide for changing the way we think of it as an employer-based system totally. We have an overwhelming opportunity now to get universal health care, because business needs more than labor or business needs it more than the uninsured. They cannot compete internationally. We have to think about it really differently, but the delivery of health care we have to think about differently, too. The idea we’re not going to be opening up little clinics in shopping centers all across America that is going to generate avoidance of operating of emergency rooms is just not reasonable.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Start with catastrophic insurance and insuring all kids

Q: How would you address the millions of uninsured, and the cost for those insured?

A: We need not just 100,000 new cops, but 100,000 new nurses that we fund in order to make things better. We have to be in a position where we don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. In the first year, I’d insure every single, solitary child in America and make sure catastrophic insurance exists, and for every single person in America, while we move toward a national health care system covering anybody.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

Survived two aneurysms in the 1990s

Joe Biden of Delaware last ran for the presidency in 1988. He's been into he Senate going on thirty years. Right from the start, Joe has a fire-in-his-belly problem: People will ask, rightly, whether he has it. Without it, as Fritz Mondale once remarked (and never lived down), you're facing a long road of Holiday Inns.

Running is a horrible strain, and those with long memories will recall that Biden survived two aneurysms more than a decade ago. Racing to Iowa every spare second to go to farm breakfasts at 5:30 a.m., making calls every minute begging for money, flying commercial (coach, no less) day after day, gets old awfully fast if you don't have that fire in your belly.

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.166 , Oct 17, 2005

Joe Biden on ObamaCare

ObamaCare plus a public option makes BidenCare

Q: Your healthcare plan calls for building on ObamaCare?

BIDEN: What I'm going to do is pass ObamaCare with a public option, and become BidenCare. The public option says that if you qualify for Medicaid and you do not have the wherewithal in your state to get Medicaid, you automatically are enrolled, providing competition for insurance companies. That's what's going to happen. Secondly, we're going to make sure we reduce the premiums and reduce drug prices by making sure that there's competition, that doesn't exist now, by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the insurance companies. Thirdly, the idea that I want to eliminate private insurance, the reason why I had such a fight with 20 candidates for the nomination was I support private insurance. That's why. Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under ObamaCare. They did not lose their insurance unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

Pre-existing conditions are in jeopardy from Supreme Court

Q: Does a new conservative Supreme Court Justice put ObamaCare at risk?

BIDEN: I think that healthcare overall is very much in jeopardy as a consequence of the President's going to go directly after this election directly to the Supreme Court within a month to try to get ObamaCare wiped out after 10 million people have already lost their insurance from their employer and wants to take 20 million people out of the system as well, plus 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.

TRUMP: We got rid of the individual mandate on ObamaCare, and now you could actually say it's not ObamaCare because you had to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay for bad health insurance, so we got rid of that. By the way, we're always protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and I can't say that more strongly. The problem with ObamaCare, it's not good. We'd like to terminate it, and we want a much less expensive healthcare that's a much better healthcare.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

A hundred million people have pre-existing conditions

BIDEN: There's a hundred million people who have pre-existing conditions and they'll be taken away as well.

TRUMP: There aren't a hundred million people with pre-existing conditions. Joe, the hundred million people is totally wrong. I don't know where you got that number.

FactCheck by NBC News, Sept. 20: A 2017 study from the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that about 133 million people had a pre-existing condition that would make them unable to buy insurance.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Public option won't end private insurance; only for Medicaid

Q: You would like to add a public option to Obamacare. The Republicans argue that that is going to end private insurance.

BIDEN: It does not. It's only for those people who are so poor they qualify for Medicaid they can get that free in most states, except Governors who want to deny people who are poor Medicaid. Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid would automatically be enrolled in the public option. The vast majority of the American people would still not be in that option.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Add public option to ACA, healthcare is a right

Q: What is your plan to make healthcare affordable, so Americans don't need to drain their savings when care is necessary.

BIDEN: First of all, in the middle of this pandemic, what is the President doing? He's in Federal Court--Federal Court trying to do away with the Affordable Care Act. What I would do is reinstate the Affordable Care Act and add a public option. So would go without being able to be covered for what they need. Healthcare is an absolute right.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Restore all cuts made to ObamaCare, then add more

Pass the Biden healthcare plan, which takes ObamaCare, restores all the cuts made to it. Subsidize it further. Provide for lower drug prices. Make sure that there's no hidden bills. Make sure that we invest what I want to invest $50 billion in dealing with underlying diseases that are of great consequence, diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer. Make sure that we have a Medicare option that's in a public option providing Medicare for us.
Source: 11th Democratic primary debate (Biden-Sanders one-on-one) , Mar 15, 2020

Must divulge cost of health care legislation

I have been around a while. I have gotten a lot of important bills passed through the Congress. Can you imagine going to Congress, Democrats or Republicans, and saying, by the way, let's have Medicare for all? How much is it going to cost? Who's going to pay for it? Well, I don't know. We will all find out later. You have to level with the American people, tell them what you think your plan is going to cost, how you're going to pay for it, and how you're going to get it done.
Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of 2020 N. H. primary , Feb 5, 2020

Add mental health parity to ObamaCare, with Biden option

The proposal I lay out does, in fact, limit drug cost. It allows Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for the price. It sets a system whereby you cannot raise the price of a drug beyond the cost of medical inflation. And by the way, there's mental health parity that I call for in the ObamaCare expanded with the Biden option.
Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Reform healthcare, don't force folks off private insurance

BIDEN: We can do this without raising $30 trillion, $40 trillion. The majority of Democrats do not support Medicare for all. We should build on ObamaCare, adding a Medicare option in that plan, and allow people to choose. A hundred and sixty million people like their private insurance. And if they don't like it, they can buy into a Medicare-like proposal in my plan.
Source: November Democratic primary debate in Atlanta , Nov 20, 2019

By 2021, ACA says insurance must pay for expensive HIV drugs

Q: With the high prices of prep and other drugs that help prevent HIV, what is your plan to make it more accessible, particularly to those in the most vulnerable communities and those without insurance?

BIDEN: Under the Affordable Care Act, there is a provision that by 2021, it will be available to anyone who has insurance, and all will be eligible for insurance. It will be available and the insurance companies must pay for it.

Source: CNN LGBT Town Hall 2020 , Oct 10, 2019

My plan builds on ObamaCare; adding $740B for public option

Q: Are single-payer plans such as those by Senators Warren and Sanders pushing too far?

BIDEN: I think we should have a debate on health care. I think Obamacare worked. I think the way we add to it, replace everything that has been cut, add a public option, guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable insurance, number one. Number two, I think we should look at cost. My plan costs $740 billion. It doesn't cost $30 trillion, $3.4 trillion a year, it turns out, is twice what the entire federal budget is. How are we going to pay for it? Thus far, Senator Warren has not indicated how she pays for it.

Sen. Elizabeth WARREN: Pres. Obama transformed health care. Now, how best can we improve it? I believe the best way we can do that is we make sure everybody gets covered by health care at the lowest possible cost. How do we pay for it? Those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations, are going to pay more. And middle class families are going to pay less.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Public option under ObamaCare covers vast majority for $750B

BIDEN [critiquing Sen. Kamala Harris' plan]: You will lose your employer-based insurance [under Medicare-for-All].

NYC Mayor Bill DE BLASIO: I don't know what the vice president is talking about. There's this mythology that folks are in love with their insurance in America. The folks I talk to say that their health insurance isn't working for them.

BIDEN: ObamaCare is working. The way to get to [ten million uninsured Americans] immediately is to build on ObamaCare. Take back all the things that Trump took away, provide a public option, meaning every single person in America would be able to buy into that option if they didn't like their employer plan, or if they're on Medicaid, they'd automatically be in the plan. It would take place immediately. It would move quickly. And it would insure the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans. In the meantime, what happens? Did anybody tell you how much their plans cost? My plan costs $750 billion. [Medicare-for-All costs] $30 trillion.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Biden plan has public option; thinking otherwise is malarkey

ObamaCare took care of 20 million people right off the bat, 100 million people with pre-existing conditions. What we got is [building onto ObamaCare with a] public option that, in fact, would allow anybody to buy in. No one has to keep their private insurance. They can buy into this plan with $1,000 deductible & never have to pay more than 8.5% of their income when they do it. And if they don't have any money, they'll get in free. So this idea [that I oppose a public option] is a bunch of malarkey.
Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Would bring back the individual mandate

BIDEN: I think there should be health care for everyone. I have a plan how to do that that's rational and will cost a hell of a lot less and will work.

Q: Would you bring back the individual mandate?

BIDEN: Yes. Yes, I would bring back the individual mandate.

Q: You think that will be popular?

BIDEN: Well, it's not -- yes, now it would be, compared to what's being offered.

Source: CNN "SOTU" 2019 on 2020 candidates , Jul 7, 2019

Build on ObamaCare, with Medicare buy-in

When my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, my two boys were badly injured. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I'd not had adequate health care. When my son came home from Iraq, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live. I can't fathom what would have happened if they said the last six months of your life, you're on your own. The quickest way to do it is build on ObamaCare and make sure everyone does have an option to a Medicare-like plan.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Expand ObamaCare, but not Medicare-for-All

Biden has signaled that he is open to adding onto the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law while he was vice president. "The Affordable Care Act was a big step ... but we need to build on it. What we can't do is blow it up." Biden has spoken out against Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. He hasn't publicly supported Medicare for All.
Source: Axios.com "What you need to know about 2020" , Apr 25, 2019

Those near doughnut hole you get $600 more for Rx benefits

Q: Will benefits for Americans under Medicare have to change for the program to survive?

RYAN: Give younger people, when they become Medicare-eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can't be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums.

BIDEN: It's a voucher. Now they got a new plan: "Trust me, it's not going to cost you any more." Folks, follow your instincts on this one. What we did is we saved $716 billion and applied it to Medicare. We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies. And it extends the life of Medicare to 2024. They want to wipe this all out. It also gave more benefits. Any senior out there, ask yourself: Do you have more benefits today? You do. If you're near the doughnut hole, you have $600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without copays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare becomes insolvent in 2016.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Medicare gives seniors choice, even if Rx prices negotiated

BIDEN: If we just did one thing--allow Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can--that would save $156 billion right off the bat.

RYAN: And it would deny seniors choices.

BIDEN: All you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage?

RYAN: Because it's working well right now.

BIDEN: Because we changed the law!

Q: Why not very slowly raise the Medicare eligibility age by two years, as Congressman Ryan suggests?

BIDEN: I was there when we did that with Social Security, in 1983. We made the system solvent to 2033. We will not, though, be part of any voucher [that says] when you're 65, go out there, shop for the best insurance you can get; you're out of Medicare. This voucher will not keep pace with health care costs, because if it did keep pace with health care costs, there would be no savings.

RYAN: A voucher is you go to your mailbox, get a check and buy something. Nobody's proposing that.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

ObamaCare built on the best of our private insurance system

On March 23, 2010, President Obama delivered on his commitment signing the health care bill into law, giving the American people more freedom and control over their health care choices, improving the quality of the care that they receive and reducing cost, all by building on the best of our private insurance system. Before we passed this health care reform we heard from legions of small business owners struggling to do the right thing, keep their employees on the payroll while also providing them with decent health insurance coverage. But it was difficult. Now that's changed. Now look, this all has happened in just one year. It's only just beginning. It's only going to get better until the law is fully implemented in 2014.
Source: Speech on "One Year of the Affordable Care Act" , Mar 24, 2011

Insurance mandate is same debate as for Social Security

This debate about the philosophic differences echo the debate that probably took place in the mid-1930s on Social Security--it was mandated. And it was mandated because everybody knew you couldn't get insurance unless everybody was in the pool. And they knew if only some people were in the pool, what would happen is a lot of people when they got old we would take care of them anyway and you'd have to pay for them. It's the same philosophic debate that took place back in the 1930s."
Source: Speech at Bipartisan Meeting on Health Care Reform , Feb 25, 2010

Start paying for universal coverage with $100B in redundancy

Q: Do you favor universal coverage for everyone without exception?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: How would you pay for it?

A: I would pay for it by three ways. 1) I start off dealing with going into a prevention-and-treatment mode here that required us to simplify and modernize the system. That could save $100 billion a year in redundancy that goes on right now. 2) I would immediately provide for catastrophic health insurance for all Americans, and I’d immediately move for insuring every single child in America. That would cost less than what the top 1% tax break costs, $85 billion a year. 3) Then what I would do is I would move to insuring everyone through one of two vehicles. Either a system we work out among the stakeholders, an agreement that everyone essentially gets Medicare from the time you’re born or a system whereby everyone can buy into the federal system. Those who don’t have the means to buy in, then you subsidize them into the system. I would pay for that by direct revenues.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Joe Biden on Pandemics

If we just all wore masks, we'd save 100,000 lives

Q: How would you lead the country out of the coronavirus crisis?

BIDEN: 220,000 Americans dead. You hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this. The expectation is we'll have another 200,000 Americans dead between now & the end of the year. If we just wore these masks, we can save a 100,000 lives. And we're in a circumstance where the president has no comprehensive plan. What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time. I would make sure we invest in rapid testing. I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses so they can be safe and give them the wherewithal, the financial resources to be able to do that. Folks, I will take care of this. I will end this. I will make sure we have a plan.

Q: [to TRUMP]: You said a vaccine will be coming within weeks. Is that a guarantee?

TRUMP: No, it's not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year. I think it has a good chance.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

A dark winter pandemic: People are learning to die with it

Q: The CDC has said young people can get sick with COVID-19 and can pass it.

TRUMP: 99.9% of young people recover. We have to recover. We can't close up our nation. We have to open our schools and we can't close up our nation, or you're not going to have a nation.

BIDEN: We're about to go into a dark winter, and he has no clear plan. He says that we're learning to live with it. People are learning to die with it. You folks home will have an empty chair at the kitchen table this morning. That man or wife going to bed tonight and reaching over to try to touch, there out of habit, where their wife or husband was, is gone. Learning to live with it. Come on. We're dying with it, because he's never said. See, you said, "It's dangerous." When's the last time? Is it really dangerous still? Are we dangerous. You tell the people it's dangerous now. What should they do about the danger? And you say, "I take no responsibility."

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

Re-open businesses, restaurants, & schools with COVID safety

TRUMP: We can't close up our nation. We have to open our schools and we can't close up our nation, or you're not going to have a nation.

Q: What do you say to Americans who are fearful that the cost of shutdowns, the impact on the economy outweighs the risk of exposure to the virus?

BIDEN: What I would say is, I'm going to shut down the virus, not the country. It's [President Trump's] ineptitude that caused the country to have to shut down in large part, why businesses have gone under, why schools are closed.

Q: But you haven't ruled out more shut downs?

BIDEN: I'm not shutting down today, but you need standards. If you have a community that's above a certain level, everybody says, "Slow up. More social distancing. Do not open bars and do not open gymnasiums." But when you do open, give the people the capacity to open safely. For example, schools. They need a lot of money to be open. They need to deal with ventilation systems. They need to deal with smaller classes, more teachers.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

I wanted to keep people in China in early 2020 pandemic

Q: When this country first became aware of COVID-19, what would you8 have done in terms of actual policy?

BIDEN: I suggested that we should be seeking access to the source of the problem. Trump never pushed that.

Q [to TRUMP]: Why did you only put in place a travel ban from China?

TRUMP: I put it in very early. Joe Biden was two months behind me, and he called me xenophobic and racist.

BIDEN: All the way back in the beginning of February, I argued that we should be keeping people in China. There were 44 people on the ground [in China]. All those 44 people came home [as US citizens despite the ban on non-citizens]. In addition to that, I pointed out that I thought in February, I did a piece for USA Today saying, "This is a serious problem." Trump denied it. He said it wasn't. He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren't true. "It's going to go away by Easter"; "When the summer comes, it's all going to go away like a miracle." He's still saying those things.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

Trump left rules to states; I want national standards

Q: What about wearing masks to protect against coronavirus

BIDEN: At a time when the science was saying, and his key people, Dr. Fauci were saying, "You should be taking these precautions."

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci said, "Don't wear a mask," right? Then he changed his mind.

BIDEN: Look, you and I know, the words of a president matter. No matter whether they're good, bad, or indifferent, they matter. And when a president doesn't wear a mask or makes fun of folks like me, when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then people say, "Well, it mustn't be that important." There should be a national standard. Remember what the president said to the governors, "Well, they're on their own; it's not my responsibility. The governors can do what they need to do." It is a presidential responsibility to lead, and he didn't do that. He didn't talk about what needed to be done because he kept worrying, in my view, about the stock market. His barometer of success to the economy is the market.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

Depending on vaccine, think about making it mandatory

Q: Will you mandate the coronavirus vaccine?

BIDEN: It depends on the state of the nature of the vaccine when it comes out, and how it's being distributed. But I would think that we should be talking about, depending on the continuation of the spread of the virus, we should be thinking about making it mandatory.

Q [to TRUMP]: You have been having rallies despite being exposed?

TRUMP: As President, I have to be out there. I can't be in a basement. I want to see everybody. And I also say to people all the time, it's risky doing it. [But the White House tests everyone regularly].

BIDEN: Before I came up here, I took another test. I've been taking them every day. If I had not passed that test, I didn't want to come here and expose anybody. And I just think it's just decency, to be able to determine whether or not you're clear. I'm less concerned about me, than the people working in the Secret Service and the camera staff.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

COVID: Would mandate mask use in federal buildings

On coronavirus: "As president of the United States, I would make a federal mandate on federal property buildings; you must wear a mask. Period. And you must socially distance -- No. 1. No. 2, I would make sure we move very rapidly to get testing available to everyone," Biden said.
Source: WPTV-5 West Palm TV coverage of 2020 NBC News Town Hall , Oct 6, 2020

COVID: maskless people responsible for their actions

On coronavirus: "Look, anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying, 'masks don't matter, social distancing doesn't matter'--I think is responsible for what happens to them," Biden said. "They're taking responsibility that, in fact, they should be held responsible for, because every major scientist and doctor and immunologist has said that's a very dangerous thing to do. The particles and droplets can stay in the air for a long time, longer than they thought."
Source: CNBC coverage of 2020 NBC News Town Hall , Oct 5, 2020

We didn't shut down economy; Trump shut down his economy

BIDEN: We didn't shut down the economy [for coronavirus]. This is his economy he shut down. The reason it's shut down is because, look, you folks at home. How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the kitchen table because someone died of COVID? How many of you are in a situation where you lost your mom or dad and you couldn't even speak to them, you had a nurse holding a phone up so you could in fact say goodbye?

TRUMP: We would have lost far more people, far more people.

BIDEN: His own CDC Director says we could lose as many as another 200,000 people between now and the end of the year. And he said, if we just wear a mask, we can save half those numbers. Just a mask.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Wearing masks saves lives; social distancing is responsible

BIDEN: Masks make a big difference. His own head of the CDC said if everybody wore a mask and social distanced between now and January, we'd probably save up to 100,000 lives. It matters.

TRUMP: And they've also said the opposite.

BIDEN: No serious person has said the opposite.

TRUMP: Dr. Fauci said the opposite.

BIDEN: He did not say the opposite.

TRUMP: He said very strongly, "Masks are not good." Then he changed his mind. He said, "Masks are good."

BIDEN: He's been totally irresponsible the way in which he has handled the social distancing and people wearing masks, basically encouraged them not to. He's a fool on this.

Source: First 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Chris Wallace , Sep 29, 2020

Protect workers and schools from COVID with funding & PPE

Q: What plan do you have to keep us from contracting COVID-19 virus in our workplace?

BIDEN: We should have national standards laid so people can go to work safely. That requires us to have rapid testing, the protective gear, some Federal funding, particularly kids going back to school, making sure there's testing and tracing. There's a whole range of things we should have done. The President disregarded it. So there's a lot of empty chairs, and it's got to stop.

Q: Could you see a scenario where you downplayed critical information so as not to cause panic?

BIDEN: Not at all. If he had just acted one month, one week earlier, he would have saved 37,000 lives. But he knew it. He knew it and did nothing. It is close to criminal.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Wearing a mask is a patriotic requirement, not slavery

Q: Barr said lockdowns were the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in U.S. history other than slavery.

BIDEN: Wearing this mask is about making sure no one else gets sick. It's not to protect you so much is to make sure you don't infect someone else. I call that a patriotic requirement. Did you ever think you'd hear an Attorney General say that following the recommendations of the scientific community to save lives is equivalent to slavery. You lost freedom because you didn't act. Freedom to go to that ball game, the freedom of your kid to go to school, the freedom to see your mom or dad in the hospital.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Supports national mask mandate

[In his ABC Town Hall interview, president Trump was asked about a national mask mandate; then Joe Biden responded by Twitter]:

TRUMP: They said at the Democrat convention they're going to do a national mandate. They never did it, because they've checked out and they didn't do it. And a good question is, you ask why Joe Biden--they said we're going to do a national mandate on masks. But he didn't do it. He never did it.

BIDEN (on Twitter): "To be clear: I am not currently president."

Source: Daily Beast/Twitter posting on ABC This Week 2020 Town Hall , Sep 15, 2020

Coronavirus: Listen to science; step out of the way

Q: Do you blame President Trump for lives lost?

BIDEN: I don't blame him for the COVID crisis. I blame him for walking away and not dealing with the solutions. Columbia University Medical School said if he had acted just one week earlier, he would have saved over 37,000 lives, 37,000 fewer people would have not passed away. Two weeks earlier over 50,000 people. This is about telling the American people the truth, letting the scientists speak, listening to the science and stepping out of the way.

Source: ABC This Week 2020 National Convention David Muir Q&A , Aug 23, 2020

Trump's looking for coronavirus miracle; no miracle coming

Biden said, "Just judge this president on the facts. Five million Americans infected by COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far the worst performance of any nation on earth." Biden said the president had been "looking for a miracle" when he could have helped stem the tide of the virus. "The tragedy that we face today is that it didn't have to be this bad. The president keeps waiting around, looking for a miracle. Well, I have news for him: Mr. President, no miracle is coming."
Source: B.Shepherd on Yahoo.com: 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 21, 2020

I'll do what we should've done from beginning of coronavirus

We'll develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately. We'll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. We'll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective. We'll take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve. We'll have a national mandate to wear a mask--not as a burden, but to protect each other. In short, I will do what we should have done from the very beginning

If this president is reelected we know what will happen. The assault on the Affordable Care Act will continue until it's destroyed, taking insurance away from more than 20 million people--including more than 15 million people on Medicaid--and getting rid of the protections that President Obama and I passed for people who suffer from a preexisting condition.

Source: Acceptance speech at 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 20, 2020

Coronavirus: Deal with health crisis before economic crisis

Q: President Trump has said that he wants the country or at least parts opened up as early as Easter?

BIDEN: Medical experts indicate to me that it's more likely to be sometime into June, before we'd be in that position. But nobody knows for certain. What we do know is that it's a false choice to make, saying that either open the economy or everything goes to hell, or, in fact, you take care of the medical side. You cannot make this economy grow until you deal with the virus and that curve. You can't deal with the economic crisis until you deal with the health care crisis.

Q: When our savings account inevitably runs out due to him not being able to work right now, what is it that we sacrifice?

BIDEN: You should not have to sacrifice anything, not just because it's the fair thing for you be taken care of. You should not have to pay a penny for testing. You will be covered. Anything related to the cost of the coronavirus health care should be free, paid for out of the federal funds.

Source: CNN S.C. Town Hall amid 2020 primaries , Mar 27, 2020

Coronavirus national rally: care; testing; hospital capacity

[On the coronavirus pandemic], my heart goes out to those who have already lost someone, or those who are suffering from the virus, and this is bigger than any one of us. This calls for a national rallying to everybody move together. There are three pieces of this.
  1. We have to take care of those who are exposed, or are likely to be exposed to the virus, and that means we have to get the testing kits up & ready. I'd take advantage of the test kits the World Health Organization have available. I would make sure that every state had at least 10 places where they had drive-through testing arrangements.
  2. We have to deal with the economic fallout quickly, and that means making sure that people who lose their job, can't pay their mortgage, are able to pay it.
  3. I would also at this point deal with the need to begin to plan for the need for additional hospital beds. We have that capacity with FEMA: they can set up 100-bed, 500-bed hospitals and tents quickly.
Source: 11th Democratic primary debate (Biden-Sanders one-on-one) , Mar 15, 2020

Accept coronavirus test kits from World Health Organization

Q: President Trump says problems with coronavirus testing stem from inheriting so many rules & regulations. Did bureaucratic red tape hamper this response in any way?

Biden: No. The World Health Organization offered the [coronavirus] testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them. We did not want to get them from them. We wanted to make sure we had our own. [Trump] said something like, "We have the best scientists in America," or something to that effect. We are not prepared for this. I agree with Bernie, we're in a situation where we have to now be providing for the hospitals that are going to be needed, needed now.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: This is a time for all of us working together. The World Health Organization is a very, very strong organization. It is sad that we have a President that has ignored the international community in so many ways, including in terms of international health crisis.

Source: 11th Democratic primary debate (Biden-Sanders one-on-one) , Mar 15, 2020

We've handled pandemics before, present system not ready

The present system cannot handle the surge that is likely to come, so we should already be sitting down and planning where we're going to put these temporary hospitals. We've been through this before with dealing with the viruses that the H1N1 as well as what happened in Africa. We provided these hospitals dealing with these great pandemics, and were able to do it quickly, but we also have to provide the equipment to protect the first responders, and that's not being done either.

With all due respect to Medicare for all, you have a single-payer system in Italy. It doesn't work there. It has nothing to do with Medicare for all. That would not solve the problem at all. We can take care of that right now by making sure that no one has to pay for treatment, period, because of the crisis. No one has to pay for whatever drugs are needed, period. No one has to pay for hospitalization. period. That is a national emergency, and that's how it's handled.

Source: 11th Democratic primary debate (Biden-Sanders one-on-one) , Mar 15, 2020

Coronavirus: Let the scientists speak; let them prepare us

Let the scientists speak. Let them tell us what is going on. Let them prepare us. Let them prepare the country. Let them be the ones explaining how they're going to provide the protective gear for hospitals that are intake hospitals. I would have not have dismantled the organization we had put in place in the first place. I would have made sure we had American scientists in China insisting we know what is happening in China and I would be doing the same thing in Europe where it is now spread.
Source: CNN "State of the Union" on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Mar 1, 2020

We invested in health agencies and kept Ebola out of the US

Q: We just heard from President Trump tonight, addressing the administration's response to the coronavirus. If you were president, what would you be doing?

BIDEN: We've been through this once. We've been through this with the virus that occurred with Ebola in Africa. I was deeply involved on that. We were able to keep the disease overseas. The few that came to the United States, we were able to put together the following: We set up an office within the president's office to deal with infectious diseases, number one. Number two, we significantly increased the funding for NIH, National Institute of Health, as well as the CDC, to immediately begin to work on vaccines, which worked. We moved. Thirdly, what we did was we made sure that we were able to be honest with the American people, so that we had complete unity between the scientists and the president.

Source: CNN S. C. Town Hall for 2020 Presidential primary , Feb 26, 2020

Insist that China let our experts inspect for coronavirus

Q: What would you be doing differently than Trump on coronavirus?

BIDEN: I think it's important that we understand that you have to have a president in charge. What I would do were I president now, I would not be taking China's word for it. I would insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it's from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now. And we should be allowed to do that and they should want us to do that, because we have genuine experts who know how to confront these things. But we need to invest [in science agencies] immediately. We should have done it from the beginning, the moment the virus appeared. But we're getting late, but we've got good scientists. And I just hope the president gets on the same page as the scientists.

Source: CNN S. C. Town Hall for 2020 Presidential primary , Feb 26, 2020

Work with China, in China, on coronavirus

Q: What would you do about coronavirus?

BIDEN: What we did with Ebola--I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States, saved millions of lives. And what we did, we set up, I helped set up that office on pandemic diseases. We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. And our president today--and he's wiped all that out. [With Ebola], we did it; we stopped it.

Q: So, more funding?

BIDEN: I would immediately restore the funding. [Trump] cut the funding for CDC. He tried to cut the funding for NIH. He cut the funding for the entire effort. And here's the deal. I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country; you have to be open; you have to be clear; we have to know what's going on; we have to be there with you, and insist on it and insist, insist, insist. I could get that done. No one up here has ever dealt internationally with any of these world leaders. I'm the only one that has.

Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Got tested for AIDS after blood transfusion; no shame in it

Q: African-Americans, though 17% of all American teenagers, are 69% of the population of teenagers diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. What is the plan to protect these young people from this scourge?

BIDEN: You’re asking, how do we prevent these 17-year-olds from getting HIV? All the things that were said here [by the other candidates] are good ideas; but they don’t prevent that. There’s neglect on the part of the medical and the white community focusing on educating the minority community out there. I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town, trying to get black men to understand it is not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters. I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There’s no shame in being tested for AIDS.

OBAMA: I got tested with my wife Michelle, in public, when we were in Kenya.

BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life, because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.

Congressional Summary:Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Reference: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act; Bill HR.6331 ; vote number 2008-S177 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted NO on means-testing to determine Medicare Part D premium.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to pay a greater share of their Medicare Part D premiums.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES: Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.

Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.

Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4240 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S063 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on allowing tribal Indians to opt out of federal healthcare.

    TRIBAL MEMBER CHOICE PROGRAM: Members of federally-recognized Indian Tribes shall be provided the opportunity to voluntarily enroll, with a risk-adjusted subsidy for the purchase of qualified health insurance in order to--
  1. improve Indian access to high quality health care services;
  2. provide incentives to Indian patients to seek preventive health care services;
  3. create opportunities for Indians to participate in the health care decision process;
  4. encourage effective use of health care services by Indians; and
  5. allow Indians to make health care coverage & delivery decisions & choices.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. COBURN: The underlying legislation, S.1200, does not fix the underlying problems with tribal healthcare. It does not fix rationing. It does not fix waiting lines. It does not fix the inferior quality that is being applied to a lot of Native Americans and Alaskans in this country. It does not fix any of those problems. In fact, it authorizes more services without making sure the money is there to follow it.

Those who say a failure to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a violation of our trust obligations are correct. However, I believe simply reauthorizing this system with minor modifications is an even greater violation of that commitment.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. DORGAN: It is not more money necessarily that is only going to solve the problem. But I guarantee you that less money will not solve the problem. If you add another program for other Indians who can go somewhere else and be able to present a card, they have now taken money out of the system and purchased their own insurance--then those who live on the reservation with the current Indian Health Service clinic there has less money. How does that work to help the folks who are stranded with no competition?

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 28-67

Reference: Tribal Member Choice Program; Bill SA.4034 to SA.3899 to S.1200 ; vote number 08-S025 on Feb 14, 2008

Voted YES on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility.

Allows State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), that require state legislation to meet additional requirements imposed by this Act, additional time to make required plan changes. Pres. Bush vetoed this bill on Dec. 12, 2007, as well as a version (HR976) from Feb. 2007.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults.
  2. It targets bonus payments only to States that increase enrollments of the poorest uninsured children, and it prohibits States from covering families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:

Veto message from President Bush:

Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.

Reference: Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R. 3963 ; vote number 2007-403 on Nov 1, 2007

Voted YES on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 55-42 (3/5ths required)

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill S.3 & H.R.4 ; vote number 2007-132 on Apr 18, 2007

Voted YES on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D.

To provide for necessary beneficiary protections in order to ensure access to coverage under the Medicare part D prescription drug program. Voting YES would extend the 6-month enrollment period for the Prescription Drug Benefit Program to the entire year of 2006 and allows beneficiaries to change plans once in that year, without penalty, after enrollment. Also would fully reimburse pharmacies, states and individuals for cost in 2006 for covered Medicare Part D drugs.
Reference: Medicare Part D Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2730 to HR 4297 ; vote number 2006-005 on Feb 2, 2006

Voted YES on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics.

Vote on an amendment that removes an increase in the Medicaid deduction rebate for generic drugs from 11% to 17%. The effect of the amendment, according to its sponsor, is as follows: "This bill eliminates the ability of generic drugs to be sold using Medicaid. Over half the prescription drugs used in Medicaid are generic. Because we have raised the fees so dramatically on what a generic drug company must pay a pharmacy to handle the drug, pharmacies are not going to use the generic. In the long run, that will cost the Medicaid Program billions of dollars. My amendment corrects that situation." A Senator opposing the amendment said: "This bill has in it already very significant incentives for generic utilization through the way we reimburse generics. Brand drugs account for 67% of Medicaid prescriptions, but they also account for 81% of the Medicaid rebates. This is reasonable policy for us, then, to create parity between brand and generic rebates. This amendment would upset that parity."
Reference: Amendment for Medicaid rebates for generic drugs; Bill S Amdt 2348 to S 1932 ; vote number 2005-299 on Nov 3, 2005

Voted YES on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would allow federal government negotiations with prescription drug manufactures for the best possible prescription drug prices. Amendment details: To ensure that any savings associated with legislation that provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the authority to participate in the negotiation of contracts with manufacturers of covered part D drugs to achieve the best possible prices for such drugs under Medicare Part D of the Social Security Act, that requires the Secretary to negotiate contracts with manufacturers of such drugs for each fallback prescription drug plan, and that requires the Secretary to participate in the negotiation for a contract for any such drug upon the request of a prescription drug plan or an MA-PD plan, is reserved for reducing expenditures under such part.
Reference: Prescription Drug Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 214 to S.Con.Res. 18 ; vote number 2005-60 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted YES on $40 billion per year for limited Medicare prescription drug benefit.

S. 1 As Amended; Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003. Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $400 billion over 10 years to create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients beginning in 2006. Seniors would be allowed to remain within the traditional fee-for-service program or seniors would have the option to switch to a Medicare Advantage program that includes prescription drug coverage. Private insurers would provide prescription drug coverage. Private Insurers would engage in competitive bidding to be awarded two-year regional contracts by the Center for Medicare Choices under the Department of Health and Human Services.Enrolled seniors would pay a $275 deductible and an average monthly premium of $35. Annual drug costs beyond the deductible and up to $4,500 would be divided equally between the beneficiary and the insurer. Beneficiaries with incomes below 160 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for added assistance.
Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit bill; Bill S.1/H.R.1 ; vote number 2003-262 on Jun 26, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.

S. 812, as amended; Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2002. Vote to pass a bill that would permit a single 30-month stay against Food and Drug Administration approval of a generic drug patent when a brand-name company's patent is challenged. The secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to announce regulations allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that provide drugs for importation would be required to register with Health and Human Services. Individuals would be allowed to import prescription drugs from Canada. The medication would have to be for an individual use and a supply of less than 90-days.
Reference: Bill S.812 ; vote number 2002-201 on Jul 31, 2002

Voted YES on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

Vote to provide federal protections, such as access to specialty and emergency room care, and allow patients to sue health insurers in state and federal courts. Economic damages would not be capped, and punitive damages would be capped at $5 million.
Reference: Bill S1052 ; vote number 2001-220 on Jun 29, 2001

Voted NO on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Vote to pass an amendment that would make up to $300 billion available for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for 2002 through 2011. The money would come from the budget's contingency fund. The amendment would also require a Medicare overhaul.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-65 on Apr 3, 2001

Voted YES on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

Vote to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would contribute at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs and beneficiaries would pay a $250 deductible
Reference: Bill HR.4690 ; vote number 2000-144 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted NO on limiting self-employment health deduction.

The Santorum (R-PA) amdt would effectively kill the Kennedy Amdt (D-MA) which would have allowed self-employed individuals to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance on their federal taxes.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)53; N)47
Reference: Santorum Amdt #1234; Bill S. 1344 ; vote number 1999-202 on Jul 13, 1999

Voted YES on increasing tobacco restrictions.

This cloture motion was on a bill which would have increased tobacco restrictions. [YES is an anti-smoking vote].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)57; N)42; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on a modified committee substitute to S. 1415; Bill S. 1415 ; vote number 1998-161 on Jun 17, 1998

Voted NO on Medicare means-testing.

Approval of means-based testing for Medicare insurance premiums.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)70; N)20
Reference: Motion to table the Kennedy Amdt #440; Bill S. 947 ; vote number 1997-113 on Jun 24, 1997

Voted YES on blocking medical savings acounts.

Vote to block a plan which would allow tax-deductible medical savings accounts.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)52; N)46; NV)2
Reference: Kassebaum Amdt #3677; Bill S. 1028 ; vote number 1996-72 on Apr 18, 1996

Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Biden scores 100% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Establish a national childhood cancer database.

Biden co-sponsored establishing a national childhood cancer database

Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.

    Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to childhood cancer professional and direct service organizations for the expansion and widespread implementation of:
  1. activities that provide information on treatment protocols to ensure early access to the best available therapies and clinical trials for pediatric cancers;
  2. activities that provide available information on the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment to ensure access to necessary long-term medical and psychological care; and
  3. direct resource services such as educational outreach for parents, information on school reentry and postsecondary education, and resource directories or referral services for financial assistance, psychological counseling, and other support services.
Legislative Outcome: House version H.R.1553; became Public Law 110-285 on 7/29/2008.
Source: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (S911/HR1553) 07-S911 on Mar 19, 2007

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Page last updated: Apr 29, 2021