President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Congress to support the creation of an advanced health research agency that would treat the country’s most critical diseases.
The National Institutes of Health could set up an agency to develop advances in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, he said.
“We end cancer as we know it,” he said during his first speech to a joint session of Congress. “It’s within our power.”
Biden spoke at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has developed advances for national security. A similar health agency, which Biden called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, could prevent, detect and treat disease.
In addition to his prepared comments, Biden spoke of a cancer proposal approved during the Obama administration. The proposal was named after his son, Beau Biden, from whom he died brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
“Many of us have dead sons, daughters and relatives who have died of cancer,” he said. “I can’t think of any worthy investment. I don’t know anything that is more bipartisan.”
Biden also urged lawmakers to focus on other critical health needs, such as lowering health care premiums, reducing deductibles and covering pre-existing conditions. He called on Congress to pass legislation to lower the prices of prescription drugs, adding that former President Donald Trump also supported the reduction in drug prices.
“We know how to do that,” he said. “We all know how enormously expensive drugs are in America.”
Biden said the savings from drug pricing legislation, which could add up to $ 500 billion in ten 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 care, according to to the hill.
“We’ve talked about it long enough. Democrats and Republicans, we’re doing it this year,” he said. “It’s a simple premise: health care should be a right, not a privilege, in America.”
White House: “Observations by President Biden in a speech at a joint session of Congress, April 28, 2021.”
CBS News: “Biden says it’s” within our power to “end cancer and drive more visionary health research.”
The Hill: “Biden asks Congress to pass drug pricing legislation this year.”