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On the Hill: Biden Details Health Care Agenda in State of the Union

In his 2023 State of the Union address last week, President Joe Biden laid out his administration’s priorities for this year, including following up his efforts through the Inflation Reduction Act to lower prescription drug costs with additional steps to “finish the job” during the 118th Congress.

Biden said he would work to cap the price of insulin at $35 and vowed to veto any attempt to weaken the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions that empower Medicare to negotiate the price of a limited number of prescription drugs. Regarding another health care priority, Biden outlined his plan to make permanent pandemic-related increases to Affordable Care Act insurance premium subsidies.

Biden’s address was notable for his exchange with Republicans, who loudly refuted his claim that some GOP lawmakers sought to cut spending on Medicare and Social Security. His reference was to a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that all federal programs should sunset every five years and require congressional reauthorization to continue. After the address, GOP leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), reaffirmed their support for Medicare and Social Security.

Also last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce hosted a joint Oversight and Investigations and Health subcommittee hearing on the federal response to COVID-19 that featured leaders from the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health. The hearing was consistent with expectations of vigorous Republican oversight of the Biden administration.

Similarly, the Energy and Commerce Committee hosted a markup of its Oversight and Authorization plan, which included discussion on the affordability of health care amid increased costs for patients and families.

On the Schedule this Week

The Senate is in session this week, and several judicial nominations are on the floor for consideration. House members have returned to their districts for a state work period and will reconvene in Washington on Monday, Feb. 27.

On Thursday, Feb. 16, at 10 am ET, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on, “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?”.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6 pm ET, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a joint field hearing of the Oversight and Investigations and Health subcommittees in Weslaco, Texas, titled, “President Biden’s Border Crisis is a Public Health Crisis.”

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About the Author

Julia Grady is a senior legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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