By: Brandon Neath

Last weekend President Donald Trump addressed the nation in arguably one of the most anticipated State of the Union addresses. Following the “blue wave” of the 116th Congress’ newly elected Democrats, Trump’s address focused on bipartisan efforts, saying: “Hopefully we will govern not as two parties but as one nation.” He, and many others in the chamber, stood out amongst the female senators and congresswomen, wearing white in solidarity commemorating the suffragettes that fought for women’s right to vote a century ago.

The bulk of his speech emphasized immigration reform, expansion of the middle class, and boasting improved rates of employment and economic growth. In comparison, he briefly discussed proposed healthcare legislation, hoping to “reduce the price of…prescription drugs.” This may be referencing the recently proposed legislation from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, aiming to remove hidden costs from medication. Surprisingly, Trump did acknowledge the importance of “price transparency” for prescription drugs and urged Congress to tackle this issue. Abruptly following that, he called for an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, touting America’s progress in its research. Although he addressed the issue, he did not take the time to explain any specific policy proposals. Various HIV/AIDS advocacy groups had their own responses to his plan, from calling it “bold” to outlining a list of necessary resources to reach this goal.

This bar chart has blue bars that show the President's HIV budget was 1.118 million in 2014, 1.118 million in 2015, 1.122 million in 2016, and 1.127 million in 2017.
This chart shows the budget for HIV the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received from 2014 to 2017.

He then advocated for outlawing late-term abortion, referring to it as “murder,” calling for a “culture that cherishes innocent life.” Trump promised that his administration would tackle the opioid crisis and talked about Veteran’s Affairs reform and legislation passed for “VA accountability.”

After the address, former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams led the Democratic Party’s response with a speech of her own. She stressed the love that she has for her country and acknowledged the work that needs to be done for “the millions of people” that expect more from the legislators that serves them. Abrams called for health system reform, claiming that they will “…commit to expanding healthcare.” The speech was brief and did not cover much in the realm of healthcare reform or policies, but it was a push against the Trump administration.

The president made some strong, though brief, healthcare related claims during the address. It will be interesting to see how these ideas impact drug prices, HIV/AIDS research and prevention, abortion policies, and the opioid crisis.

About the Contributor

Brandon Neath is a Guest Contributor for Destination Health. He is a Senior at the Emory College of Arts and Sciences pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Health

Picture of a young African American male from the mid-chest up in front of a plain grey background. He is smiling and looking in the direction of the camera.
Guest contributor, Brandon Neath

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