Like many of you, I tuned in last month to watch President Barack Obama deliver his final State of the Union address. Over the course of 6,044 words, he discussed issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy. Among the top priorities for this administration, both today and moving forward, is public health and health care. The president made several references to improving public health throughout his speech, but how do these statements translate into the real world? Let's take a look:
Expanding Coverage to Those in Need
The president keenly emphasized the importance of broad health care coverage for all Americans. He has made ensuring easier access to quality health services the signature initiative of his term in office. Programs like Medicare, and its prescription drug benefit (Part D), have grown rapidly since the beginning of the Obama administration, allowing more seniors to access the medicines they need and live longer, healthier lives. Part D is a perfect example of stemming health care inflation -- the price of plan premiums have held steady for six years in a row.
Supporting the Discoveries that Make Our World Better
Discovery is the backbone of our country. We set sail across an ocean without knowing what lay ahead. We said we would set foot on the moon and within a decade, Apollo 11 touched down on Tranquility Base. We've lit the world at the flick of a switch and connected it at the touch of a button. Now, our focus must turn to mapping a new frontier in medicine. Many hardworking Americans -- scientists, doctors and researchers -- spend every day in the search for the next great treatment or cure. We should encourage and support them in every way, whether through sound policy or vigorous advocacy.
Aiming High to Fight Cancer
President Obama's endorsement of a new program to fight cancer was without a doubt the highlight of his address. Not only did the president reaffirm the White House's commitment to medical research with his words, he also honored a man who has shown sincere dedication to the cause: Vice President Joe Biden. Last year, the vice president led earmarked an additional $264 million for the National Cancer Institute. With the Oval Office standing firmly behind this effort, it will not stop at the water's edge. Never before has our national health care system been better positioned to battle cancer and I'm optimistic that we will see real results in the not-too-distant future.
In his seventh and final State of the Union, the president reflected on his time in office, laid out the challenges and goals ahead of us and assessed where we stand today. It's safe to say that with the constant and passionate support of the White House, the state of our health is - and will continue to be - strong.