State of the Union 2024: How Biden Plans to Make Health Care More Accessible

<p>Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images</p>

Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

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In last night’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden made two major promises when it comes to health care.

Expanding on his administration’s Medicare cost reductions, he announced plans to further decrease healthcare costs for more Americans.

He also vowed to restore reproductive freedom and addressed the Supreme Court justices directly about their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

What exactly do Biden’s promises entail? We outlined his plans in the context of the healthcare landscape today.

Protecting ACA Tax Credits

What Did Biden Say?

“Folks, the Affordable Care Act, the old Obamacare, is still a very big deal.”

“I enacted tax credits that save $800 per person per year [and] reduce healthcare costs for millions of working families. That tax credit expires next year. I want to make that savings permanent.”

Who Gets the Tax Credit?

By introducing the American Rescue Plan in 2021, Biden enhanced tax credits available to families with Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance. Specifically, tax credits averaging $800 per person were extended to households above 400% of the Federal Poverty Line.

While the tax credits are set to expire in 2025, Biden announced plans to make them permanent.

Restoring Roe v. Wade

What Did Biden Say?

“Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God, what freedom else would you take away?”

“Clearly, clearly, those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women. But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot. We won in 2022 and 2023, and we will win again in 2024.”

“If you, the American people, 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.”

What Is the Current State of Reproductive Rights in the U.S.?

Biden spoke at length about “reproductive freedom” at the address last night, acknowledging he’ll need bipartisan support to restore abortion rights on a national level.

In 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that guaranteed federal protection for the right to have an abortion. The decision has left states to draw up their own rules about reproductive health care.

Biden also asked Congress to guarantee the right to IVF nationwide in the wake of a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court deeming lab embryos “unborn children.” That ruling led to a shutdown of IVF treatments in the state.

Related: 7 Things to Know About Your Reproductive Rights in a Post-Roe World

Capping Drug Costs for All

What Did Biden Say?

“With a law that I proposed and signed—not one of you Republican buddies voted for it—we finally beat Big Pharma. Instead of paying $400 a month or thereabouts for insulin—which only costs ten bucks to make—[people] with diabetes only pay $35 a month now, and [companies] still make a healthy profit. And now I want to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American who needs it.”

“Starting next year, that same law caps total prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 a year, even for expensive cancer drugs that can cost $10,000, $12,000, $15,000. Now I want to cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year for everyone.”

Who Currently Benefits From the Caps, and Who Stands to Benefit?

Biden was referring to the Inflation Reduction Act. A major part of signing it into law involved setting a price cap for Medicare prescriptions.

A $35 per month price cap on insulin went into effect in 2023. And while it’s not set to kick in until 2025, the amount Medicare Part D beneficiaries spend on medication will be capped at $2,000 per year instead of 25% of total drug costs.

Biden said he now wants to extend both price caps to all Americans with private insurance next year.

Related: A Verywell Report: Insulin Price Cuts Barely Move the Needle for Americans

Negotiating More Medicare Drug Costs

What Did Biden Say?

“This year Medicare is negotiating lower prices for some of the costliest drugs on the market that treat everything from heart disease to arthritis. It’s now time to go further and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for 500 different drugs over the next decade…That will not only save lives; it will save taxpayers another $200 billion.”

How Do Medicare Negotiations Work?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which runs Medicare, currently has the power to negotiate the prices of 10 drugs with pharmaceutical companies each year in order to save beneficiaries money. The first 10 drugs selected—ranging from Entresto for heart failure to Imbruvica for blood cancer—each lack less expensive generic alternatives, making affordable access imperative. Now, Biden wants to increase that number to 50 drugs per year.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.