Here’s what Biden’s State of the Union will be about: NPR

President Biden during his first State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. Last year, the President announced his four-part Unity Agenda. This year, he will update the American people on the progress of his plans.

Shawn Thew/AP

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Shawn Thew/AP

Here's what Biden's State of the Union will be about: NPR

President Biden during his first State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. Last year, the President announced his four-part Unity Agenda. This year, he will update the American people on the progress of his plans.

Shawn Thew/AP

During last year’s State of the Union address, President Biden announced his four-part unity agenda: end cancer, better care for veterans, tackle a national crisis mental health and crush the opioid epidemic in the United States. This evening, he will present to the people a progress report on these agenda items.

Ahead of the State of the Union on Tuesday night, the White House released some of the progress the administration has made on the president’s ambitious agenda.

Nearly 30 new federal cancer programs in the past year

Last year, the President and First Lady announced they were revamping the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, with the goal of halving cancer-related deaths over the next 25 years. To help achieve this goal, Cancer Moonshot announced nearly 30 new programs, policies and resources over the past year.

The relaunch of the program aims to close the cancer screening gap, tackle environmental exposures, reduce preventable cancers and promote advanced research, while supporting patients and caregivers. And, according to the White House, more than 60 private companies, nonprofits, 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 created the National Cancer Institute 52 years ago, to update America’s cancer research and care systems. The administration also says it will ensure that patient navigation services are a covered benefit for as many people as possible.

And while the plan doesn’t dive into specifics, the president wants to tackle smoking, which the American Cancer Society says is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.

“Although we have made progress, tobacco products still attract too many young people at an early age and take Americans out of control to make the decision not to smoke,” the White House said. “The administration is working to put that control back in American hands.”

Expand veterans benefits and continue the 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 paid a total of $128 billion in benefits to more than 6 million veterans. fighters. Biden also expanded benefits for veterans, their families and caregivers through the passage of the PACT Act, which also addresses the needs of service members exposed to toxic combustion stoves and other substances.

Biden says he plans to continue fulfilling what he calls a “sacred obligation” to the US military, including the ongoing fight against veteran suicide.

More than 71,000 people have died by suicide since 2010, more than the death toll in the US wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the White House said. And while the number of veteran suicides is down, any number above zero is too many, which is why Biden plans to work with states and territories to improve veteran resources to identify risks. of suicide, to provide counseling and to expand awareness-raising efforts.

The Biden administration also hopes to tackle veteran homelessness by providing more housing for very low-income veterans.

“Every veteran should have a roof over their head,” the White House said. “The President’s next budget will triple the number of very low-income veterans who will be able to access the help they need to pay their rent for years to come.”

Invest critical resources to address a national mental health crisis

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on national health issues, 90% of Americans think mental health is a national crisis as of 2022. Some 40% of adults report symptoms of depression and anxiety, and the number of children experiencing these symptoms increased by almost 30% between 2016 and 2020.

Biden and his team have worked to address these issues by expanding behavioral health clinics and investing in the US suicide prevention hotline 988 over the past year. On Tuesday evening, the President will explain how he plans to continue this work by protecting children online through healthier social media practices.

He also wants to crack down on tech companies that collect consumer data and use 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 more than a decade for a person to get the help they need to solve their mental health problems. Biden wants to make sure insurance companies treat mental health the same as the physical health of patients.

Working with international leaders to crush the opioid epidemic

Opioid addiction and overdoses affect Americans from all political walks of life and in all communities, which is why Biden has pledged to end the epidemic. And while opioid-related deaths have declined, the numbers remain staggeringly high, the White House said.

Biden plans to crack down on the trafficking and distribution of fentanyl — a pain medication 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine — by cracking down on security at border entry points in the country’s southwest. 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 sends 123 full-scale scanners to the border to inspect passenger and freight vehicles.

And to address the problem at its source, Biden will work with international partners to seize the chemical ingredients used to produce fentanyl outside US borders. He will also seek tough penalties for fentanyl-related crimes.


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