State of The Union
The nation’s health took center stage during the second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, where President Biden highlighted key health policy challenges, and refocused America on the need to address them:
- As a nation, we pay more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world.
- One in 10 Americans has diabetes. Millions need insulin to control their diabetes so they can stay alive
- There is an urgent need to codify Roe v. Wade to protect every woman’s constitution right
- US addiction crisis and the high number of overdoses that take place each year are of major concern.
- There is a need for more first responders to be present for mental health and substance abuse challenges
- Millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma, we owe them greater access to mental health care at school.
The President outlined the historic progress that the administration has made over the past two years to address these very challenges, and the shared his vision for protecting and furthering these accomplishments. Sweeping gun safety and opioid addiction treatment laws were passed, and significant investments in mental health were made. With a record breaking 16 million people being signed up for high quality affordable health insurance through the affordable care act (ACA) this year, there is a lot to celebrate. That is more people insured than ever before; however, President Biden called on Congress to make the enhanced ACA subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) permanent. There are still millions of other Americans who are not insured – including the 200,000 young people with Type 1 diabetes who need insulin to save their lives. So, while we are celebrating the cost of insulin now being capped at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare, it is now time we cap the cost for all Americans, and also protect Medicare from potential budget cuts. As he repeatedly stated, it is time to finish the job.
This presidency started in a time where the pandemic still dictated our day-to-day choices, and while we have not yet fully escaped the risks of COVID-19, we are in a space to acknowledge the journey that we have been on as a country. Deaths from COVID-19 have decreased by 90 percent, but more than 1 million Americans lost their lives to COVID-19 and in remembering these losses, we must remain vigilant. Congress must continue to fund efforts to keep our country safe from the pandemic, monitor variants and support new vaccines and treatments. With the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ending soon, it would be unfair to ignore the public health crisis that remains and the impact that ending the PHE will have on Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. Again, we must finish the job.
Whether taking on the mantle of protecting access to reproductive health care, promoting continuous protection against the COVID-19 virus, expanding healthcare coverage, reducing the cost of prescription drug, improving mental health care access, or battling the addiction crisis, it is important to understand that all of the work that has been and will continue to be done directly impacts the health outcomes of the American people. The need for reliable affordable health care for all should therefore fundamentally be a driving force to unite us, and bipartisanship will be necessary as the second half of President Biden’s term is underway. We can finish the job, and as noted by the President, ‘be the America that is always moving forward’.