The health care topics covered in the SOTU
In his speech, Biden noted his administration's upcoming health care priorities, including:
In the speech, Biden touted the progress the United States has made against Covid-19, saying the disease "need no longer control our lives."
"I know some are talking about 'living with Covid-19,'" Biden added. "Tonight, I say that we will never accept living with Covid-19. We will continue to combat the virus as we do other diseases. And because this is a virus that mutates and spreads, we will stay on guard."
Biden also noted that Pfizer will provide more pills of its Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, one of two antivirals authorized by FDA.
"We've ordered more pills than anyone in the world has. And Pfizer is working overtime to get us one million pills this month and more than double that next month," Biden said.
Biden also announced the launch of a "Test to Treat" initiative that will allow people who test positive for Covid-19 at a pharmacy to also receive antiviral pills "on the spot at no cost."
According to a White House official, the administration will launch "one-stop shops" for antivirals and Covid-19 testing this month, with hundreds of sites at places like CVS, Walgreens, and Kroger. Long-term care facilities will also receive antiviral pills, as part of the initiative.
To better prepare for new variants of the coronavirus, Biden announced that, if needed, the United States will "be able to deploy new vaccines within 100 days instead of many more months or years." He also called on Congress to provide funds for new stockpiles of tests, masks, and pills.
"I cannot promise a new variant won't come," Biden said. "But I can promise you we'll do everything within our power to be ready if it does."
Biden also said its time to "end the shutdown of schools and businesses," adding that Americans "can feel safe to begin to return to the office" and that children need to remain in school in person.
"[W]ith 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely," Biden said.
Biden added that the United States "will continue vaccinating the world," noting the country has "sent 475 million vaccine doses to 112 countries, more than any other nation. And we won't stop."
Lowering drug costs
Biden also addressed the high prices of prescription drugs, with a specific focus on out-of-pocket insulin costs, saying the United States should "cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month so everyone can afford it."
Biden added that Medicare should be able to "negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, like the [Department of Veterans Affairs] already does" and that the United States needs to "close the coverage gap" and make health care premium savings that were part of the American Rescue Plan permanent.
Improving nursing homes
Biden's speech also touched on his administration's plan to improve the quality of nursing homes in the United States.
"As Wall Street firms take over more nursing homes, quality in those homes has gone down and costs have gone up. That ends on my watch," Biden said. "Medicare is going to set higher standards for nursing homes and make sure your loved ones get the care they deserve and expect."
Addressing mental health
In his speech, Biden said all Americans should get access to "the mental health services they need. More people they can turn to for help, and full parity between physical and mental health care."
Biden specifically called for addressing mental health among children, "whose lives and education have been turned upside down," noting that the American Rescue Plan "gave schools money to hire teachers and help students make up for lost learning."
"Children were also struggling before the pandemic," Biden added. "Bullying, violence, trauma, and the harms of social media."
As a result, Biden said the United States should "hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they're conducting on our children for profit."
Making progress on cancer
Biden also said in his speech he wants to "end cancer as we know it," noting the disease is the number two cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease.
"Last month, I announced our plan to supercharge the Cancer Moonshot that President Obama asked me to lead six years ago," Biden said. "Our goal is to cut the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years, turn more cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases."
Biden called on Congress to fund the Advance Research Projects Agency for Health as a way to reach that goal.