2022-04-22 Hardly Raining
U.S. President Joe Biden visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time during his presidency. After a stop in Portland yesterday, Biden continued on to Seattle to attend private fundraisers and sign an Earth Day executive order for the protection of old-growth forests.
In the student union building of Green River College in Auburn, the President offered remarks about lowering costs for U.S. families—especially those related to healthcare.
He said, “Countless Americans lie in bed at night staring up at the ceiling wondering, ‘What happens? What happens if I get sick? What happens if I get prostate cancer and my wife gets breast cancer? What do we do? How do we take care of the family? Who’s going to pay for it? What’s going to happen?’ Thousands and thousands of Americans stare at that ceiling.”
Biden emphasized the burden of prescription drug costs, and noted that a quarter of Americans cannot afford their prescription medications. “I think it’s safe to say that all of us, whatever our background, our age, where we live, agree that prescription drugs are outrageously expensive,” he said.
He also highlighted the higher prices that Americans pay—for example, an anti-cancer drug for $14,000 in the U.S., versus $6000 in France. “It’s unconscionable.”
His voice shaking, the President described the impact of drug pricing upon U.S. families. “Imagine what it’s like if you don’t have insurance and you don’t have the cash. You look at your child, knowing what they need, and knowing there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Not only is your child put in jeopardy, you’re deprived of your dignity. How do you look at your child, and deal with it? There’s no excuse—none!”
Although Biden noted that healthcare protections won during the Obama administration had been strengthened by the American Rescue Plan in 2020, he cautioned that the struggle for affordable healthcare continues. “This is not your father’s Republican Party. … They continue to attack the Affordable Care Act and want to eliminate it. They’re unrelenting.” He added, “Instead of destroying the ACA, let’s keep building on it.”
Representative Kim Schrier, Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Governor Jay Inslee provided opening statements at the event. Several Democratic politicians and community leaders were in the audience.
Sammamish mother Elisa Graceffo and daughter Juliana Graceffo escorted Biden to the stage. After Juliana was diagnosed with type I diabetes, the pair raised a half million dollars for diabetes research.
Biden closed with well-wishes to Green River College students. “We need you badly. The reason I’m so optimistic, you are the least prejudiced, the most involved, the most concerned generation.” The President waved to the audience and exited to “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Editor’s note. This story will be published concurrently at Back Beat Seattle.