President Joe Biden called on Congress on Wednesday to support the creation of an advanced health research agency that would address the nation’s most critical diseases.
The National Institutes of Health could create an agency to develop breakthroughs for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, he said.
“Let’s end cancer as we know it,” he said during his first address to a joint session of Congress. “It’s within our power.”
Biden spoke about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which has developed breakthroughs for national security. A similar health agency, which Biden called an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, could prevent, detect, and treat diseases.
Adding to his prepared remarks, Biden then talked about a cancer proposal that was passed during the Obama administration. The proposal was named after his son, Beau Biden, who died from brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.
“So many of us have deceased sons, daughters, and relatives who have died of cancer,” he said. “I can think of no more worthy investment. I know of nothing that is more bipartisan.”
Biden also urged lawmakers to focus on other critical health needs, such as lowered health care premiums, lowered deductibles, and coverage of preexisting conditions. He called on Congress to pass legislation that would lower prescription drug prices, adding that former President Donald Trump also supported lowered drug prices.
“We know how to do this,” he said. “We all know how outrageously expensive drugs are in America.”
Biden said the savings from drug pricing legislation, which could add up to $500 billion over 10 years, could be used to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare coverage. Lawmakers have discussed lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 55 or 60 and including benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental, according to The Hill.
“We’ve talked about it long enough. Democrats and Republicans, let’s get it done this year,” he said. “This is all about a simple premise: Health care should be a right, not a privilege, in America.”
White House: “Remarks by President Biden in Address to a Joint Session of Congress, April 28, 2021.”
CBS News: “Biden says it’s ‘within our power’ to end cancer and pushes for more visionary health research.”
The Hill: “Biden calls on Congress to pass drug pricing legislation this year.”