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Friday, October 15, 2021

Nation

UH experts project policy changes under Biden administration


President-elect Joe Biden is sure to usher in a variety of policy changes, which will impact people across the nation. 

Policy affecting students is no exception. Changes to healthcare, business and foreign policy could impact the community that the University serves. 

Health care

In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The plan offers health insurance to non-incarcerated U.S. citizens or nationals. 

While the Trump administration attempted to repeal the policy, they did little toward accomplishing that goal, said law professor Seth J. Chandler

Chandler foresees that the Biden administration will expand and increase the ACA’s subsidies, which would lower the plan’s monthly premium and reduce other costs, like co-pays.  

“Right now, if you earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you cannot get a subsidy in most states for an Obamacare policy. That might change,” Chandler said. 

The subsidy could make a positive financial difference to students facing economic struggles during the pandemic, with statewide unemployment coming in at just under 7 percent for October. 

Business

Houston is the center of the nation’s energy industry, but oil prices have plummeted over the past four years. During the pandemic, prices hit an all time low and oil barrels were trading in the negatives.  

Economics lecturer Ed Hirs predicts the drop is due in part to a deal that Trump cut with Saudi Arabia after potentially forgiving some of the country’s shortcomings, like the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We’ve had hundreds of bankruptcies, job losses and loss of capital in the business of oil and gas,” Hirs said.

In a transition of power, individuals shouldn’t expect much to change, since the normalization of relations between the Middle East and America does not seem to be at the top of Biden’s agenda. 

In a Forbes September article about the impact of then-presidential candidates on the oil industry, Hirs said he “can see an increase in oil prices over the next 12-24 months.”

“I can also forecast a tremendous push for electric vehicles, which would be a great advantage for students entering the job market today,” he added.

Immigration

Named the most diverse city in the nation in a 2019 survey, Houston serves as the home for 1.6 million immigrants

The Trump administration’s attitude and actions toward immigrants have generated far-reaching effects for those seeking entrance to the United States, whether for protection from persecution or other reasons, said Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the UH Law Center. 

“The anticipation is that the new Biden administration will follow the Supreme Court’s recent (Deferred Action for Childhood Recipients) decision, Regents v DHS, by allowing new applicants to apply for DACA and honoring the commitments the government has made to existing DACA recipients, such as employment authorization and allowing for advance parole in appropriate circumstances,” Hoffman said. 

Middle Eastern studies program director Emran El-Badawi added that “brains need to have the ability to travel freely, which is something that was unable to happen under the Trump administration.”

“With the changes in administration, we can see a rapid shift in laws. Most notably, in immigration,” El-Badawi said.   

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