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Feature US Politics

How Joe Biden has changed US healthcare in just 100 days

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 29 April 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1081
  1. Joanne Silberner, freelance journalist
  1. Seattle, US
  1. joanne.silberner{at}

Joe Biden took office at a time when the US had the world’s highest number of covid-19 deaths, a problem filled health system, and a toxic regulatory legacy left by his predecessor. Joanne Silberner looks at the changes the new president has already made to health and healthcare

When it comes to health, Joe Biden’s first 100 days have been marked as much by what he’s undone as by what he’s done.

Biden and his transition team were busy making plans even as the election results were being unsuccessfully contested by outgoing president Donald Trump.1 On inauguration day, Biden issued a series of executive orders and memos—actions the president can take without a congressional vote—that would undo policies as quickly as possible.

Kaiser Health News keeps a running list of policies put into place by Trump without a vote in Congress,2 and thus at least theoretically reversible by Biden alone. As of 21 April, Biden had “overturned” eight and 22 were “in process.” Among those overturned were restrictions on fetal tissue research and reductions in funding to help people navigate the country’s complicated health insurance options.

Biden also brought the US back into the World Health Organization on his first day in office. That same day he named a covid-19 response coordinator, re-joined the Paris climate accord, and signed an order requiring masks in the White House and federal properties. Unlike Trump, he has kept his mask on while working in his office.

On day 2 Biden told various government agencies to beef up medical supplies including personal protective equipment related to covid-19. He also announced plans to improve covid-19 …

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