Forty minutes into his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump talked about the major issues facing healthcare and took on his Democratic rivals and other lawmakers who support Medicare for All.
"One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans," Trump said. "To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare."
Trump touted the initiatives of his administration on price transparency, reducing health insurance premiums, providing alternative insurance plans that he said are 60% less expensive, the approval of a record number of affordable generic drugs and medicines being approved by the FDA.
His Executive Order requiring price transparency will go into full effect at the beginning of next year, he said.
"I have also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions -- that is a guarantee. And we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security," Trump said to applause.
In addressing efforts to lower prescription drug prices, for the first time in talking about healthcare during the address, Trump talked about the need for a bipartisan effort in legislation.
"Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay," he said.
Trump also addressed the opioid epidemic saying overdose deaths have declined and said his administration would take all necessary steps to safeguard citizens from the coronavirus outbreak .
He has a goal of eradicating the AIDS epidemic by the end of the decade and improving care for Americans living with kidney disease, childhood cancer and mental health challenges.
Trump honored conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh, who was in the chamber, recently announced he had Stage 4 lung cancer. First Lady Melania Trump presented Limbaugh with the highest civilian honor.
The speech was one of optimism for a "roaring economy" of low unemployment, rising incomes, fewer people on food stamps and work being done to restore "manufacturing might."
"This is a blue collar boom," Trump said.
In the rebuttal of Trump's address, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Democrats are trying to make healthcare better while Republicans are trying to take it away.
"Today Democrats from Maine to Montana are expanding coverage and lowering costs," she said.
Every Democrat running has a plan for healthcare coverage, Whitmer said.
WHAT'S THE IMPACT
The State of the Union address comes a day before the Senate plans to vote whether to convict Trump on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The president, who is all but assured of acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate, did not mention impeachment in his State of the Union address.
Some Democrats opted not to attend the State of Union. Twitter was quick to pick up on an apparent slight to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's attempt to shake the president's hand and also her ripping up Trump's prepared statements at the end of the address.
THE LARGER TREND
As the president spoke, Democratic candidates were in New Hampshire ahead of that state's primary on February 11.
The day after the Iowa Caucus, the full results were unknown due to the Tally by App glitch. As of Tuesday night, with 62% reporting, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the winner, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Sanders and Warren support Medicare for All and Biden and Buttigieg a public option that would allow for private health insurance.
ON THE RECORD
Secretary Alex Azar said following the State of the Union address: "Lowering the cost of healthcare and improving the health of Americans has been a key priority of President Trump during his first three years in office, and tonight, he laid out the results that his leadership has produced. American life expectancy is rising again, drug deaths are down for the first time in three decades, and death rates from cancer are dropping. Retail drug prices are down, Medicare and Obamacare premiums are down, patients are getting access to the data they need to control their care, and seniors on Medicare have access to new, patient-centered options and benefits. President Trump has aggressively taken on health challenges that haven't gotten the attention they deserve, like improving kidney health and ending the HIV epidemic here in America. Many challenges remain, and, this year, HHS will expand our focus to new issues, like improving maternal health and transforming healthcare in rural America, and continue to work with Congress to deliver commonsense healthcare reforms. The President is fulfilling his promise to protect what works in our healthcare system and make it better, and more success is still to come."
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