5 Health Care Takeaways from President Bidens 2024 State of the Union Address

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday night covered numerous priorities for the White House, chief among them health care.

Biden touted the continued impact of the Affordable Care Act, his administration’s recent moves on drug prices and his ambitions to protect reproductive rights.

In particular, Biden doubled drug prices and pushed for more reforms beyond what has already been passed in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Still, it left out other key health issues, including mental health, the opioid epidemic, pandemic preparedness and cancer.

Here are the top takeaways for healthcare marketers as the nation heads into election season.

1. Medicare Negotiations and Drug Prices

One of Biden’s main talking points during this year’s speech was announcing his administration’s track record of enacting drug price reform under the IRA.

Through the landmark bill, which gave Medicare the power to negotiate the cost of certain prescription drugs and provided a $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on drugs under Medicare, Biden argued that “we finally beat Big Pharma “.

Biden also noted that the new Medicare negotiation provision is expected to reduce the federal deficit by $160 billion and save money for the federal health program.

However, he also said it was not enough and pushed for more drug price reforms. He asked Congress to give Medicare the authority to negotiate prices for up to 50 drugs a year, an increase from its current limit of 20 drugs a year.

“Now is the time to go further and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for 500 different drugs over the next decade,” Biden said.

He also pushed for an expansion of the current $2,000 annual limit on Medicare prescription drugs for everyone with private insurance.

Leslie Isenegger, corporate pricing and public affairs practice leader at Real Chemistry, noted that Biden was expected to focus on drug costs in the State of the Union, given that he has used it during the primary. of his re-election campaign.

“The idea of ​​lowering drug costs is something that we are fully anticipating for President Biden, as well as many sitting Democrats,” Isenegger said. “It’s a major issue that always polls well on both sides of the aisle.”

Still, the Biden administration faces challenges on drug pricing reform.

For one thing, it’s too soon for patients to feel the beneficial results of Medicare’s new drug pricing arrangement, since the new prices won’t be implemented until 2026.

It’s also possible that people don’t necessarily experience these benefits directly, as Isenegger pointed out.

“Saying that Medicare will save money does not mean that the individual patient will save money,” Isenegger explained. “The challenge for the president and other Democrats coming forward with this message is that health care policy is so complicated that people don’t see it. [immediate cost] relief I don’t know if saying, ‘We passed the legislation,’ is going to have an impact for individual voters.”

2. Affordable Care Act

In perhaps a surprise move, Biden referenced the ACA frequently throughout his speech.

“My friends, the Affordable Care Act, the old Obamacare, is still a big deal,” Biden said. “More than 100 million of you can no longer be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.”

Biden also referred to former President Donald Trump’s recent comments about wanting to revive the ACA debate. In Truth Social posts late last year, Trump argued that he wanted to replace Obamacare “with much better health care.”

“I will not let this happen,” Biden noted in his address. “We’ve stopped you 50 times before and we’ll stop you again. In fact, I’m not just protecting it, I’m expanding it.”

Isenegger noted that promoting the ACA may also serve as an aspect of Biden’s upcoming presidential campaign.

“I thought it was interesting that he made some references to the ACA, like, ‘Hey, I was a part of that too.’ And you really liked that,” he explained. “This shows how long the tail of politics has to be. Because when you implement anything, [the benefits are felt] two administrations later.”

3. Reproductive rights, abortion and IVF

Unsurprisingly, Biden also focused heavily on reproductive rights, given the ongoing abortion debate since Roe v. Wade was canceled in 2022.

He referred to the repeal of the landmark court case – and subsequent reproductive health bans and restrictions – as an “assault on liberty”.

Biden detailed the story of Latorya Beasley, an Alabama social worker who was unable to proceed with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments for her second child after the Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that the embryos consider children IVF clinics in the state subsequently halted treatments and services until the governor signed a law to loosen some restrictions.

“Guarantee the right to IVF,” Biden pressed. “Guarantee it to the whole country.”

Biden also highlighted the issue as a main point of his campaign.

“Clearly, those who boast about tipping over Roe v. Wade I have no idea about the power of women,” Biden added. “But they found out when reproductive freedom was on the ballot. We won in 2022 and 2023, and we will win again in 2024.”

Biden also announced the launch of the first White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, led by First Lady Jill Biden. The $12 billion initiative would aim to “transform women’s health research and benefit millions of lives across America.”

4. Health problems left aside

Interestingly, however, Biden left out several health issues, including the mental health crisis and labor shortage, legislative proposals to target the opioid epidemic, and Biden’s moonshot initiative against the cancer

Tellingly, the word “COVID” was used only once in Biden’s speech, when he noted that “the vaccines that saved us from COVID are now being used to beat cancer.”

Biden spoke briefly about the mental health crisis and called for “we need to help cities invest in more community policing, more mental health workers, more community violence intervention.”

However, he did not highlight any specific bills or legislation that would address this.

5. Takeaways for healthcare marketers

Especially as the 2024 election cycle approaches, healthcare marketers have an important role to play in breaking down policy conversations, Isenegger noted.

He pointed to the narrative in Congress about Big Pharma’s demand for high drug costs as an area where healthcare marketers can make an impact.

“Biden called Big Pharma several times last night and is setting up Big Pharma as a monolithic industry that wants to make crazy profits,” he said. “One mistake the pharmaceutical industry can make is to let the industry trade association be the mouthpiece to counter that narrative.”

Discussing the implications of ARI for both patients and industry, for example, is an area where each pharmaceutical company may have a unique perspective.

“There is not just one ‘big pharma’. There are many different types of pharmaceutical companies that treat many different types of diseases and patients,” Isenegger said. “If pharmaceutical marketers can help their organizations tell that more personal story and tell it at a more granular level, tell it to the patients they serve, what their fears and concerns are about the law, I believe which is a much more compelling story to tell.”

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