President Joe Biden speaks ahead of the signing of executive orders to improve access to affordable health care at the White House in Washington, USA, Jan. 28, 2021.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
President Joe Biden signed executive measures Thursday aimed at expanding access to Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic and reversing the anti-abortion policy expanded by former President Donald Trump.
"I am not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law," Biden said before signing the orders. "This goes back to the situation before the President's instructions."
The recent moves complement the president's more than three dozen other directives, and memoranda Biden signed in his first week in office are at a record pace.
From mid-February to mid-May, Biden first signed an ordinance restoring a special enrollment deadline for Healthcare.gov, the health insurance enrollment page set up under former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
The ordinance also instructs federal agencies to review, and possibly reverse, policies restricting access to health care, including those that have made it difficult for the less fortunate to enroll in Obamacare and Medicaid, the federal health insurance program.
Trump had tried unsuccessfully to repeal the law, Obama's legislative achievement, but had taken steps to undercut the law.
"Of all the times we need to restore access to Medicaid, the affordability and scale of access to Medicaid is now in the midst of this Covid crisis," Biden said.
Biden also signed an executive memorandum to immediately repeal so-called Mexico City policy, also known as the "global gag rule". This decade-old policy prohibits international nonprofits from receiving US funding for providing abortion counseling or referrals.
That policy was expanded under the Trump administration to refuse to support foreign non-governmental organizations that fund other groups that support abortion services.
In his first seven days in office, Biden has taken extensive steps to erase Trump's achievements. Biden signed orders for the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, to end the construction and financing of the border wall between the US and Mexico, to end the travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries, to include undocumented immigrants in the ten-year census and Lift the ban on transgender people who openly serve in the military.
Biden is also trying to work with bipartisan lawmakers to pass extensive coronavirus relief law.
"We have a lot to do and the first thing I have to do is get this Covid package passed," Biden said after signing the executive actions.