Healthcare takeaways from Trump’s State of the Union speech

President Trump’s second annual State of the Union address was held on Feb. 5. During the speech, Trump touched on many subjects, from foreign affairs to national security, the job market, economy, and more. The president also talked about several healthcare goals and changes.

The address was originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 23, but was delayed due to a partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days over disagreements between parties on funding a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Here are some of the top healthcare takeaways of the speech:

Drug prices

Trump touted his administration’s efforts to reduce drug prices, claiming that prices “experienced their single largest decline in 46 years” in 2018. He further called on Congress to pass legislation that delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients, as well as require drug companies, insurers and hospitals to disclose “real prices to foster competition” and lower healthcare costs.

The administration has taken several steps to lower drug prices, including proposing to a reimburse Medicare Part B drugs based on an international pricing model, allowing Part D plans to negotiate lower drug costs within the catastrophic phase of care, banning pharmacy gag clauses and requiring transparency for out-of-pocket costs.

However, while some of these proposals could potentially lower drug prices in sections of Medicare, many drug companies only dropped their prices in 2018 for a short time after Trump publicly called out certain companies via Twitter. At the start of 2019, several companies immediately moved to hike prices.

HIV/AIDS

The president also took aim at HIV and AIDS during the speech, announcing a goal to eradicate the epidemic in the nation within 10 years. The president’s future budget proposal will ask Congress to commit to eliminating the HIV epidemic, with a specific focus on 48 counties where about half of new infections occur, according to The New York Times.

The goal comes after the president fired all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) council in late 2017. The council, of which many of its member were appointed by former President Obama, advises, informs and make recommendations to the Secretary about the HIV/AIDS issue. The council is next scheduled to meet in March.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has seen a resurgence over the last several years in some hotspots around the country and diagnoses have increased among a few groups. Roughly 38,500 Americans became newly infected with HIV in 2015, according to HIV.gov. In 2016, nearly 40,000 Americans were diagnosed with HIV.

Children’s cancer research

Trump publicly called upon Congress to approve $500 million in funding to research childhood cancers over the next decade. Among his guests at the speech was Grace Eline, a young girl who was diagnosed with brain cancer and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer, Trump stated.

Obamacare mandate

The president also briefly touched on the elimination of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Congress effectively repealed the mandate when it zeroed out the financial penalty of the mandate in its 2018 tax bill.

The lack of the penalty is actually the crux of an ongoing appeal of a lawsuit launched by Republicans that could overturn the ACA in its entirety. In December, a judge ruled the healthcare law was unconstitutional because the penalty was eliminated. The future of the ACA is uncertain, but it will remain as law of the land until the case is settled.

Right-to-try act

The right of patients to try new or unapproved treatments, known as right-to-try laws, were also given a quick shoutout during the speech.

“To give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed very importantly, right to try,” he said.