Biden sets the bar high in his first State of the Union address


Biden’s hour-long speech was delivered to a largely unmasked crowd of lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and cabinet members in the House chamber, a sign that the threat of the omicron variant has diminished.

Speaking about the coronavirus, Biden tried to make the connection between being optimistic and on guard, saying the nation was entering a phase in which “covid-19 no longer needs to control our lives”, although that the United States should remain focused on expanding vaccines, treatments, testing and monitoring of new variants. And when Biden introduced Ukrainian ambassador Oksana Markarova, who was in the gallery as a guest of first lady Jill Biden, the room – much more crowded than for a speech there in April last year – responded with a standing ovation.

As expected, Biden used the speech to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of force against Ukraine while touting the strength of the Ukrainian people and the NATO alliance.

He also went through a rather long list of household chores that touched on a number of health policy issues.

He spoke of the need to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, citing the high price of insulin. Joshua Davis, a 13-year-old boy from Virginia with type 1 diabetes, attended the speech as another guest of the first lady. He watched and cheered from the gallery as Biden urged capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month “so everyone can afford it.” Biden also renewed his call to let “Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.”

The president promised nursing home reforms through the Medicare program that would lead to higher quality standards of care. He unveiled what he called his “Unity Program for the Nation”. It includes initiatives to end the opioid epidemic, address the nation’s mental health needs – especially those of children – improve veteran services and end cancer. He was also firm on the need to protect access to health care, preserve women’s reproductive rights and advance maternal health care.

KHN and the PolitiFact team of reporters and editors watched it all. You can read the detail fact check here. Here are the health care highlights:

Under the new guidelines, most Americans and most countries are now mask-free. And based on the projections, more of the country [cross] this point in the coming weeks.

That’s right. Below updated guidelines as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on February 25, approximately 70% of Americans live in communities at low to medium risk of covid and will be allowed to go out in public and indoor spaces without a mask.

The agency considers counties to be at high risk if they see 200 or more new infections per 100,000 people, or if 10% or more of hospital beds have been occupied by covid patients in the previous seven days. An area is also considered high risk if 10 or more people per 100,000 people are admitted to hospitals for the disease.

Under the new rules, residents of high-risk areas will have to mask up. In medium-risk communities, however, masks are only recommended for immunocompromised people. In communities with low covid rates, there is no recommendation to wear a mask.

Moreover, recent CDC forecast for the next four weeks suggest a continued decline in hospitalizations and deaths. If these predictions come true, more Americans will likely be able to go without masks.

75% of American adults are fully immunized and hospitalizations have decreased by 77%. Most Americans can remove their masks and stay in the classroom and move on safely. »

This is a largely accurate description of official figures and guidance. According the CDCas of March 1, 75% of Americans 18 or older are fully immunized, or 193,643,363 people.

It was unclear what the starting point was for Biden’s claim that covid-related hospitalizations are down 77%, but about 60,000 people with the coronavirus are hospitalized nationwide, compared to about 160,000. in January, according to New York Times data. This translates to a drop of 62.5%.

Also, it is correct that most Americans are not required to wear a mask under the CDC. updated guidelines.

The US bailout is helping millions of families on Affordable Care Act plans save $2,400 a year on their health care premiums.

That’s right. The American Rescue Plan Act extended subsidies for market health insurance plans to many Americans – more than 3 million – who were not previously eligible.

The subsidies meant that the Affordable Care Act insurance premiums for many families were much lower. The Estimate from the Department of Health and Social Services that for 4 registrants out of 5, it would cost $10 or less per month, after tax credits, to subscribe to health insurance.

The savings of $2,400 per year appear to come from a 2021 HHS Press Release which outlines examples of how expanded grants will save money, for example: “A family of four earning $90,000 will see their premiums drop by $200 a month.” This would translate to $2,400 per year.

Estimates from other organizations support savings in this range of figures. According to KFF, a nonprofit health policy organization, individual consumers could save, on average, $70 a month on health insurance thanks to US bailout subsidies. For a family of three, this would translate to a savings of $210 per month, or about $2,500 per year. But not all children would necessarily be automatically eligible for ACA coverage – many are instead eligible for the children’s health insurance program, known as CHIP.

Still, KFF Grant Calculator 2021 shows that a 40-year-old couple with two children earning 200% of the poverty line (an average income) would receive $16,247 per year in subsidies. Compared to a KFF subsidy calculator from before the US bailout, that same family would have received $13,878 in subsidies. That’s exactly a difference of $2,369 in savings.

“So the $2,400 seems very reasonable,” said Cynthia Coxvice president and director of the ACA program at KFF.

PolitiFact rReporters Jon Greenberg, Louis Jacobson and Amy Sherman contributed to this report.

This article was taken from Courtesy of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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