Here’s what Biden’s State of the Union will be about : NPR
During last year’s State of the Union address, President Biden announced his four-part Unity Agenda: ending cancer, taking better care of veterans, addressing national mental health crisis and breaking America’s opioid epidemic. Tonight, he will give the people a progress report on those agenda items.
Before the State of the Union on Tuesday night, the White House outlined some of the advances the administration has made on the president’s ambitious agenda.
Nearly 30 new federal cancer programs in the last year
Last year, the president and first lady announced that they were fixing the Cancer Moonshot initiative, with the aim of halving cancer-related deaths over the next 25 years. To help achieve that goal, Cancer Moonshot announced nearly 30 new programs, policies and resources over the past year.
The relaunch of the program aims to close the gap in cancer screening, address environmental exposures, reduce preventable cancers and promote cutting-edge research, all while supporting the patients and their carers. And, according to the White House, more than 60 private companies, non-profit organizations, patient groups and academic institutions have stepped up to answer the president’s call.
In the coming years, Biden will ask Congress to reauthorize the National Cancer Act, which established the National Cancer Institute 52 years ago, to update the research and care systems of -cancer of America. The administration also says it will ensure that patient navigation services are a covered benefit for as many people as possible.
And although the plan doesn’t go into specifics, the president wants to address smoking, which the American Cancer Society says is responsible for nearly 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States
“While we’ve made progress, tobacco products still turn on too many young people at an early age and take control from individual Americans to make the decision not to smoke,” the White House said. “The Administration is working to put that control back in the hands of Americans.”
The expansion of veteran’s benefits and the continued fight against suicide
The Veterans Administration processed 1.7 million claims in 2022, more than any other year on record, the White House said, and awarded a total of $128 billion in benefits to more than 6 million veterans. Biden also expanded benefits for veterans, their families and caregivers through the passage of the Act PATTwhich also addresses the needs of service members exposed to toxic burn pits and other substances.
Biden says he plans to continue fulfilling what he calls a “sacred obligation” to America’s service members, including the continued fight against veteran suicide.
More than 71,000 have died by suicide since 2010, more than the number of deaths in America’s wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the White House said. And although the number of veteran suicides is declining, any number greater than zero is too many, which is why Biden plans to work with states and territories to improve veteran resources to identify suicide risks, providing counseling and expand outreach efforts.
The Biden administration also hopes to address veteran homelessness by providing more housing for extremely low-income veterans.
“Every veteran should have a roof over their head,” said the White House. “The President’s upcoming budget will triple the number of extremely low-income veterans who can access the assistance they need to afford rent over the next few years.”
Investing critical resources to address a national mental health crisis
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on national health issues, 90% of Americans they believe that mental health is a national crisis from 2022. Some 40% of adults are reporting symptoms of depression and anxietyand the number of children experiencing those symptoms rose almost 30% between 2016 and 2020.
Biden and his team have worked to address these issues by expanding behavioral health clinics and investing in America’s 988 suicide prevention hotline over the past year. On Tuesday night, the president will talk about how he plans to continue that work by protecting children online through stronger social media practices.
He also wants to stop tech companies collecting consumer data and using algorithms to “discriminate against Americans and sow division.”
As for adults, the president plans to push for better mental health support for the workforce. On average, it takes an individual more than ten years to get the help they need to address mental health issues. Biden wants to ensure that insurance companies treat mental health the same as patients’ physical health.
We work with international leaders to crush the opioid epidemic
Opioid addiction and overdoses affect Americans across the political spectrum and in all communities, which is why Biden has pledged to stop the epidemic. And although opioid deaths have been declining, the numbers are still very high, the White House said.
Biden plans to address the trafficking and distribution of fentanyl — a pain management drug 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine — by cracking down on security at border ports of entry. – South-west of the country. Customs and Border Patrol agents seized 260,000 pounds of drugs at the border last year, including nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl. The White House is sending 123 large-scale scanners to the border to inspect passenger and cargo vehicles.
And to address the problem at its source, Biden will work with international partners to seize chemical ingredients used to produce fentanyl outside the borders of the United States. He will also push for tougher penalties for fentanyl-related crimes.