In just their first month in the White House, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have dumped some of the worst Trump-era policies.
With relief, we said goodbye to particularly harmful regulations on LGBTQ+ people and on immigrants, plus a rule that hurt the health and rights of people around the globe. Meanwhile, the Biden-Harris administration began to clean up Trump’s mess of a COVID-19 response — and cleaned house in an arm of the government that manages health care.
Here are the first five steps that President Biden has taken to bring about a future where everybody has full control of their bodies and lives — and how you can take action.
1. Biden Rescinded the Global Gag Rule
In his first full week in office, Biden got rid of the harmful global gag rule. Under Trump, the global gag rule banned overseas groups from receiving U.S. health funding if they referred, provided, counseled, or advocated for abortion services. The policy put health services out of reach for people in low and middle income countries who already faced systematic barriers to care — with significant effects on women, young people, and LGBTQ+ communities in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Biden is working to restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s largest provider of donated contraceptives. The Trump administration blocked all U.S. funding to UNFPA, taking away reproductive and maternal health care for people in some of the world’s most vulnerable areas.
2. Biden Implemented a COVID-19 Response Plan
On January 21, Biden released a national strategy plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The new COVID-19 strategy:
Provides transparent steps to increase testing and vaccinations
Lays out steps to invest in an equitable and global response to the pandemic
Shows how the federal government will collect scientific data on COVID-19 and use that data to slow the spread of COVID-19
In sharp contrast to the previous administration, the government is now actively trying to keep people healthy. With knowledge of the hardships that the pandemic has brought, Biden reopened enrollment for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage plans. Now, people have more time to get the health care insurance they need.
Biden also had the United States rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO). Rejoining WHO signals a strong commitment to a global COVID-19 response and an understanding that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
3. Biden Overrode Trump Policies That Put LGBTQ+ Patients at Risk of Discrimination
Last month, Biden reversed several measures that the Trump administration took to allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. In particular, Biden issued an executive order with bold LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections that would start the process to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in health care, housing and education.
The Biden-Harris administration will consider it against the law if school leaders discriminate against transgender students, or if officials discriminate against gay or lesbian couples in housing decisions.
Biden has also:
Ended the ban on transgender individuals in the military
Ordered each federal agency to review its polices to ensure they protect LGBTQ+ people from sex discrimination
Established a White House Gender Policy Council — which expands the missions of women’s policy councils in previous administrations to include both domestic and foreign policy, as well as account for the distinct inequities that intersex, transgender, and nonbinary people can face
4. Biden Lifted the Muslim Ban
On January 20, Biden reversed the anti-Muslim travel ban. This rule imposed restrictions on those seeking to enter the United States from a group of mostly Muslim-majority countries. The Muslim ban kept thousands of immediate family members — including parents, children, and spouses — in banned countries from following their relatives who already resettled in the United States.
The Biden-Harris administration is also committed to protecting immigrants and travelers in other ways. For instance, the administration is working to reunite immirant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
5. Biden Put the Overall Health Care House in Order
Over the past four years, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did considerable damage to health care in the United States and around the world. The actions of Trump’s leaders at HHS undermined Medicaid, sabotaged birth control access, attacked sexual and reproductive health at the UN and around the world, and promoted discriminatory health care policies. No more.
Biden has chosen reproductive health champions — and responsible adults — to lead his administration. Just two examples of Biden’s stellar picks:
Xavier Becerra for HHS secretary: Becerra is California’s attorney general who fought to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He understands the urgent need to tackle inequities in our health-care system, and promises to protect and expand access to health care for all.
Dr. Rachel Levine for HHS assistant secretary: Dr. Levine, Pennsylvania’s top health official, stands to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As HHS assistant secretary, she would oversee the nation’s public health policy and help roll back Trump’s harmful policies on sexual and reproductive health, including policies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. Her appointment is a marked reversal from the extremists appointed to HHS under Trump.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within HHS: The top CMS official will oversee the $1 trillion agency and play a major role in shaping the federal health care agenda, including policies that affect health care access for women and LGBTQ+ people.
Biden is also working to protect and expand Medicaid. This includes efforts to end misleading Medicaid work requirements that the Trump administration encouraged states to impose and efforts to affirm that states cannot block people with Medicaid from seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers and other abortion providers. In addition, Biden has proposed a robust COVID-19 relief package, which contains incentives for states to take on Medicaid expansion.
Bonus Points: Working to End the Title X Gag Rule and Harmful Abortion Restrictions
A dangerous gag rule was imposed by Trump to force providers like Planned Parenthood out of the Title X program, the nation’s only dedicated federal funding for affordable reproductive health care. Now, the Biden-Harris administration is taking steps to end the Title X gag rule.
Meanwhile, reproductive health champions in Congress are pushing for an end to federal restrictions on medication abortion and are calling on President Biden to issue a budget without the limitations of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid and other federal health programs from covering abortion. We expect the Biden-Harris administration to listen to these calls and uphold their promises on reproductive health care.