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What now for Joe Biden's presidency and healthcare?

Biden supports strengthening the ACA and public and private options in which public plans would compete with private plans.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election Saturday morning. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election Saturday morning. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday after vote counts in Pennsylvania and Nevada put him over the top of the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

Results in North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska had yet to be decided as of Saturday afternoon, but even if President Trump were to win all three states, he wouldn't have enough to get to 270.

Recounts in close vote states such as Georgia and Wisconsin, and litigation from Trump's team, are expected. 

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Trump's attorney Rudi Giuliani, speaking at a press conference Saturday morning, said Trump won't concede when hundreds of thousands of votes are in question. Voter fraud will be investigated, according to Giuliani, who gave as an example a woman in Pennsylvania who apparently filled out and returned her ballot for Biden days after she died.

The inauguration is scheduled for Wednesday, January 20, the first day of the new term. Biden is expected to be sworn in as the 46th president and Senator Kamala Harris as vice president, marking a historic first as Harris becomes the first woman and first person of color to hold the position.

The focus for Biden's team now turns to the close Senate race in Georgia, where two run-off races are being decided. The winners will likely decide the balance in the Senate, where Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority.

Democrats have gained one new seat in the Senate, but would need two more for a 50-50 split. Vice President Kamala Harris could then cast any tie breaking votes.

In Georgia, the winner needs to get at least 50% of the vote and none of the candidates have reached that threshold. 

In one race, GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler faces Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock in a special election to fill the rest of the term for a seat vacated by retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, according to NPR. In the second race, Republican incumbent Sen. David Perdue faces Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The outcome matters if Biden needs to reconstruct the Affordable Care Act, should the Supreme Court, now having a 6-3 conservative majority, rule the law is unconstitutional. Oral arguments in the case are being heard Tuesday morning.

Both providers and payers support the ACA as providing 20 million Americans with insurance coverage.

Biden supports strengthening the ACA and a public and private option for healthcare coverage in which public plans would compete with private plans. 

The American Hospital Association and America's Health Insurance Plans both congratulated Biden and Harris in statements released on Saturday.

Matt Eyles, president and CEO of AHIP, said, "We look forward to working with the new Administration to deliver a competitive system that leverages private sector innovation to improve on what is working, so that everyone has access to affordable coverage and high-quality care. There are many healthcare challenges that our nation must face together – from continuing to battle the COVID-19 crisis, to making health care and prescription drugs more affordable, to protecting patients from surprise medical bills, to ensuring stable coverage markets for those who need it most."

Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said, "We both share the same top priority: fighting the battle against COVID-19.  As we continue on the front lines in this fight, we will work as partners to protect our patients and communities, as well as support our brave health care workers. Our other priorities remain the same: advancing the transformation of health care, ensuring access to coverage, enhancing the quality of care and making health care more affordable."
 
THE LARGER TREND
 
President Trump has never laid out a clear plan to replace Obamacare. The administration is on the side of Texas and other GOP-led states looking to get rid of the law through a Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling is expected to be handed up by the end of the Supreme Court's term in July 2021.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com