WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to contrast his health care record with former President Donald Trump’s, touting his efforts to lower drug prices and urging Congress to expand access to reproductive freedoms.

Biden addressed the nation just two days after Super Tuesday primaries in over a dozen states, which set the stage for a likely Biden-Trump rematch in November. Here’s a look at the key health care issues the president highlighted:

Support for abortion, reproductive rights

During his address, Biden criticized Trump for rolling back women’s access to reproductive rights but avoided referencing him by name. 

“My predecessor came to office determined to see Roe v. Wade overturned,” Biden said. “He’s the reason it was overturned. In fact, he brags about it. Look at the chaos that has resulted.”

Biden called attention to the experience of Kate Cox, a Dallas woman who was forced to travel outside her home state of Texas to access lifesaving abortion care because of the Texas abortion ban. Cox attended the speech on Thursday as one of the guests of first lady Jill Biden.

In the months following the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, 14 states have made abortion illegal, and several others have imposed restrictions. 

Biden vowed to “restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again” if Congress passes a bill protecting reproductive rights — though it is highly unlikely that the Democrats could secure 60 votes in the politically divided Senate to overcome the filibuster that would stall the measure. 

Biden warned that many Republicans including Trump are “promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom,” but underscored women’s voting power, highlighting that reproductive freedom “was on the ballot and won” in the 2022 midterm elections. 

“With all due respect justices,” Biden said addressing the Supreme Court, “women are not without electoral or political power.” In an ad-libbed moment, Biden added, “you’re about to realize just how much,” in a reference to the hope that voters in support of reproductive rights would vote in strong numbers in the 2024 election. 

Protecting IVF

After the Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that frozen embryos should be considered children, Biden called on Congress to guarantee the right to in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, treatments nationwide. He highlighted the experience of Latorya Beasley, a social worker from Birmingham, Alabama, who had to put her “dream” of having a second child via IVF on hold as a result of the ruling. Beasley was also a guest of the first lady on Thursday.

The Alabama court decision triggered the temporary closure of three IVF facilities in the state. However, in the days after the court ruling, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law Wednesday shielding IVF providers in the state from potential criminal liability, but the issue of whether embryos should get legal protection remains an open question in many states that restrict abortion.

Earlier this year, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced a bill protecting IVF at the federal level, but Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked the measure, arguing that it was a “vast overreach that is full of poison pills that go way too far — far beyond ensuring legal access to IVF.”

“What (Beasley’s) family has gone through should have never happened,” Biden said. “And unless Congress acts, it could happen again.”

Keeping drug prices under control

During his address, Biden also took aim at Trump’s previous unsuccessful efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. By contrast, Biden noted that he successfully passed the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, which allowed Medicare to directly negotiate prices of certain costly drugs lacking generic competition. His administration is for the first time negotiating directly with drug companies over the price of medications. The law also caps out-of-pocket yearly maximum prescription drug costs at $2,000 by 2025 and sets the maximum price of a vial of insulin at $35 a month for diabetic seniors on Medicare. 

Biden called on Congress to extend the insulin price cap to private insurance and to expand on his legislation by giving Medicare the ability to negotiate the prices of 500 drugs over the next decade. 

“With a law I proposed and signed and not one Republican voted for we finally beat Big Pharma,” Biden said. “For years people have talked about it but I finally got it done,” he later added.