Response to President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union Address

On Thursday, March 7, President Joseph R. Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address to the nation. Nora OBrien-Suric, President of the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, offers this response:

In his State of the Union, the President of the United States affirmed the heart of our mission—that health care is a human right. The president’s proposed initiatives to make health care more accessible and more affordable strengthen our resolve to advance health equity for the communities we serve.

Here are some notable highlights of his speech:

  • Strengthening Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices – Currently, Medicare is able to negotiate the prices of 20 drugs each year. President Biden has proposed significantly increasing the amount of prescription drugs, including medications for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • Capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for everyone with private insurance – The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) established a new rule that will limit out-of-pocket drug expenses for Medicare beneficiaries to $2,000 a year, effective 2025. President Biden would like to expand this rule to include all individuals covered by private insurance, regardless of their age.
  • Securing rebates from pharmaceutical companies – Medicare currently receives rebates if drug manufacturers raise medication prices faster than inflation. President Biden is proposing to extend that policy to commercial drug sales.
  • Capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American.
  • Making the Affordable Care Act’s enhanced premium tax credits, which save each person $800 a year, permanent before they expire in fall 2025.
  • Launching the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research and investing $12 million in women’s health research.
  • Restoring the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) – Under the American Rescue Plan, the CTC cut child poverty in half by the end of 2021. While the newly proposed CTC plan would not have an impact on as many families as the original, it could lift 400,000 children out of poverty if restored in 2024.

We support all measures designed to expand and maintain access to quality, affordable health care for every American. Our hope is that President Biden and Congress can work together on these and other initiatives to advance health equity throughout our nation.

Finally, given the Health Foundation’s commitment to combating ageism, we also appreciated President Biden’s references to his age. In between self-deprecating jokes, he underscored a very serious matter: ageism has no place in our communities. He reminded us all of our common humanity:

“Whether young or old, I’ve always known what endures, our North Star: The very idea of America, that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We’ve never fully lived up to that idea, but we’ve never walked away from it either.”