President Biden announced the American Families Plan (AFP) on April 28, a $1.8 trillion recovery plan that includes investments in health coverage, education, childcare, and family and medical leave. The AFP, along with the previously introduced American Jobs Plan (AJP), would invest a total of $3.8 trillion in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and economy [refer to Washington Highlights, April 2].
Prior to the release of the AFP, the AAMC sent an April 20 letter to Congress and the administration detailing priorities that should be included in infrastructure legislation in the areas of research recovery, physician workforce, public health preparedness, access to telehealth and investments in broadband services, and improved data to address health inequities [refer to Washington Highlights, April 23].
President Biden announced his plan during his April 28 Joint Address to Congress. In his address, the president stated, “To win that competition for the future, in my view, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families and our children. That’s why I’ve introduced the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families and, in turn, America.”
The AFP would permanently extend the provisions in the American Rescue Plan (P.L. 117-2) that make more people eligible for subsidies in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces and increase the amount of those subsidies [refer to Washington Highlights, March 12]. The AFP also mentions that President Biden “has a plan” to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, create a “public option,” and lower the age for Medicare eligibility to 60, but does not provide specific details or if those provisions will be included.
The AFP would make investments in the nation’s education system, especially in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSI). “While HBCUs are only three percent of four-year universities, their graduates make up approximately 80 percent of Black judges, half of Black lawyers and doctors, and 25 percent of Black undergraduates earning STEM degrees,” the plan states in outlining the need for these proposed investments to support more students at these institutions.
Specifically, the AFP would provide $2 billion to HBCUs, MSIs, and TCUs directed toward building a pipeline of skilled health care workers with graduate degrees, $5 billion to expand existing institutional aid grants, and $39 billion to subsidize two years of tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 who are enrolled in a four-year HBCU, TCU, or MSI.
The president also proposed increasing funding for Pell Grants and providing two years of free community college and universal pre-k. Additionally, the plan would create a $62 billion grant program that invests in completion and retention activities at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students.
With the announcement of the president’s AJP and AFP proposals, it is now up to Congress to introduce legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has indicated a desire to pass an infrastructure package in the House by July 4.