WYSO

Julie Rovner

In one of his first proposals since becoming the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden is wading back into the roiling waters of health policy.

In a nod to the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and in what is clearly an overture to supporters of the "Medicare for All" plan pushed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden wants to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 60.

Health care has been a leading issue in the presidential campaign over the past year, as Democratic candidates have clashed with each other, and especially with President Trump. But voters, who tell pollsters that health is among their top concerns, also complain that the health debate has been confusing and hard to follow.

With voting about to begin in many states, here's a guide to some key health care terms, issues and policy differences at play.

Universal coverage, "Medicare for All" and single-payer are not the same thing

Jan. 22 marks the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that legalized abortion nationwide. People on both sides of the furious debate say this could be the year when everything changes.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case since Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy, who had been the swing vote on abortion cases. A decision is expected by summer.

You're forgiven if in the holiday blur you missed that a federal appeals court in New Orleans has once again put the future of the Affordable Care Act in doubt. Or if you missed the news last week that a group of Democratic state attorneys general has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in this term — which ends in June. That would mean a decision could come right in the middle of the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

Any day now, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could rule that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

At least it seemed that two of the three appeals court judges were leaning that way during oral arguments in the case, State of Texas v. USA, in July.

The one thing we know about health care in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race is that it's a top issue for voters.

The latest Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation in late November found 24% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they want to hear the candidates discuss health care. That's twice the total for the next top issue, climate change, and four times the total for immigration, the No. 3 issue.

It was a moment of genuine bipartisanship at the House Ways and Means Committee in October, as Democratic and Republican sponsors alike praised a bill called the "Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2019."

The bill, approved by the panel on a voice vote, would allow consumers to use their tax-free flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications and women's menstrual products.

The newest faculty member at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences has a great smile ― and likes to be scratched behind the ears.

Shetland, not quite 2 years old, is half-golden retriever, half-Labrador retriever. As of this fall, he is also a lieutenant commander in the Navy and a clinical instructor in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at USUHS in Bethesda, Md.

The politics of health care are changing. And one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act — the so-called "Cadillac tax" — may be about to change with it.

The Cadillac tax is a 40% tax on the most generous employer-provided health insurance plans — those that cost more than $11,200 per year for an individual policy or $30,150 for family coverage. It was a tax on employers and was supposed to take effect in 2018, but Congress has delayed implementation twice.

The headlines about presidential candidate Joe Biden's new health care plan called it "a nod to the past" and "Affordable Care Act 2.0." That mostly refers to the fact that the former vice president has specifically repudiated many of his Democratic rivals' calls for a "Medicare for All" system, and instead sought to build his plan on the ACA's framework.

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