Consumer / Employer, Legal

4 Healthcare Takeaways from Biden’s State of the Union Address

President Joe Biden discussed several healthcare concerns during his State of the Union address, including reproductive rights, prescription drug costs, the Affordable Care Act and women’s health research.

In his State of the Union address Thursday, President Joe Biden tackled several healthcare issues facing Americans, from reproductive rights to prescription drug costs. Here are four healthcare topics he touched on in his speech:

  1. Reproductive rights

Biden called out the Alabama Supreme Court’s February ruling that declared that frozen embryos can be considered children, leading to several medical facilities shutting down in vitro fertilization treatments. He told the story of social worker Latorya Beasley who scheduled treatments to have a second child but had to hold off because of the decision.

“What her family has gone through should never have happened. And unless Congress acts, it could happen again,” Biden said.

He also addressed the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which allowed states to decide their own abortion policies. So far, 14 states have banned abortion, according to KFF.

“There are state laws banning the right to choose, criminalizing doctors, and forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states as well to get the care they need,” he said. “Many of you in this Chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. … If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you, I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again!”

  1. Prescription drug costs

Americans pay more for prescription drugs than any other country, Biden noted. He discussed the Inflation Reduction Act, which caps insulin out-of-pocket spending at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries. In his address, Biden said he wants to expand this benefit to “every American who needs it.”

Biden also mentioned the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, which gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower the cost of expensive drugs. Negotiations have begun for the first 10 drugs in the program, but Biden said he wants to “go further and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for 500 drugs over the next decade.” However, drug companies are currently trying to fight the program by filing multiple lawsuits against it, though AstraZeneca recently lost its lawsuit. 

In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a $2,000 yearly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Medicare starting in 2025. Biden said he wants to provide this cap to everyone.

  1. The Affordable Care Act

Biden called out lawmakers who are trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But Biden declared that he won’t let this happen.

“We stopped you 50 times before and we will stop you again,” he said. “In fact, I am protecting it and expanding it. I enacted tax credits that save $800 per person per year, reducing health care premiums for millions of working families. Those tax credits expire next year. I want to make those savings permanent!” 

  1. Women’s health research

Biden noted that women make up more than half of the population, yet women’s health research is underfunded. The president called on lawmakers to pass his $12 billion plan for women’s health research. 

In November, the White House launched an initiative on women’s health research led by First Lady Jill Biden. Last month, Jill Biden announced $100 million in funding for women’s health research through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The funding will support solutions focused on areas including brain health, women’s health at home and chronic pain.

Several women’s health executives came out in support of the White House’s efforts on women’s health research.

“I’ve been in healthcare for 15-20 years. This is really the first time in my entire career that I’ve actually seen women’s health on the map in terms of not just innovative companies putting out apps or platforms or new types of clinics … but really the administration taking an active role in shaping policy,” said Anu Sharma, founder and CEO of maternal health company Millie, in an interview.

Photo: MarianVejcik, Getty Images