Biden talks for more than an hour and leaves no initiative unmentioned

WASHINGTON—In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Joseph R. Biden pulled no punches in laying out his vision for healthcare in the United States: rein in drug prices, expand Medicare benefits, and bolster the Affordable Care Act.

The speech was delivered on the eve of his 100th day in office to a socially distanced crowd of just 200, rather than the 1,600 or so Senators, Representatives, government officials, and guests that are traditionally in attendance when a president delivers a Congressional address.

In a speech that ran for 71 minutes, here are some of his words:

Pandemic: “On the morning of January 20th, less than 1% of the seniors in America were fully vaccinated against Covid-19. One hundred days later, 70% of seniors in America over 65 are fully protected. Senior deaths from Covid-19 are down 80% since January, and more than half of all the adults in America have gotten at least one shot… There is still more work to do to beat this virus. We can’t let our guard down, but I can say because of you, the American people, our progress these last 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements, logistical attainments, this country has ever seen.”

Affordable Care Act/Drug Prices: “Eight hundred thousand Americans have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act [since Biden authorized a special enrollment beginning February 15, 2021]. The American Rescue Plan lowered healthcare premiums for 9 million Americans… let’s make that provision permanent so their premiums don’t do back up. … The Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and women’s health, and the pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed. Let’s lower deductibles for working families… and while we’re at it, let’s lower prescription drug costs. We know how to do this… We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America. In fact, we pay the highest prescription drug prices of anywhere in the world right here in America… three times the price for same drug as what other countries pay. We need to change that, and we can. Let’s do what we’ve talked about for all these years.”

Healthcare Technology: “The Defense Department has an agency called DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency… to develop breakthroughs that enhance our national security… it’s led to everything from security, to the internet, to GPS, and so much more… I believe we should create a similar Advance Research Projects Agency for Health with a similar purpose—all breakthroughs—to present, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. … I can think of no more worthy investment. I know of nothing that is more bipartisan. So, let’s cure cancer as we know it. It’s within our power to do it.”

Medicare/Medicaid: “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions by negotiating for lower prescription drug prices. And the money we save, which is billions of dollars, can go to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage benefits without costing taxpayers a penny. It’s within our power to do it. Let’s do it now! We’ve talked about it long enough… Let’s get it done this year. This is all about a simple premise: health care should be a right, not a privilege, in America.”

Gun violence: “Gun violence has become an epidemic in America. The flag at the White House was lowered to half-staff for victims of a mass shooting in Georgia, when 10 more lives were taken in Colorado, and in the weekend between those two events 150 other Americans were shot dead in the streets of America… In the 90s we passed universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that held 100 rounds that can be fired off in seconds… that law expired. … it is time for Congress to act… Don’t tell me it can’t be done. We did it before, and it worked. Talk to most reasonable gun owners… they’ll tell you, there is no possible justification for having 100 rounds… What? Do you think deer wear Kevlar vests? I tell you there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun, shouldn’t be able to buy a gun… These reforms have the overwhelming support of the American people. The country supports these reforms.”

Peggy Peck, Editor-in-Chief, BreakingMED™

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