Healthcare Notably Absent from State of the Union Address


January 31, 2018

Americans who were hoping to hear about healthcare during President Trump’s first State of the Union address were disappointed Tuesday night as the president chose instead to focus his speech on the economy, immigration and international policy. Notably absent from Trump’s lengthy address was any mention of how his administration plans to address healthcare reform. A Politico survey conducted earlier this month found that healthcare ranked among the top concerns for voters, but Trump steered clear of the divisive topic during Tuesday’s speech.

Instead, the president spoke to economic accomplishments during his first year in office as well as goals for the upcoming year. Unemployment is at a 45-year low according to Trump, and 2.4 million jobs have been created since last year. The president also claimed that black and Hispanic unemployment are at their lowest rates ever recorded.

Regarding healthcare, Trump had little to say other than to emphasize his commitment to lowering prescription drug prices, alleging it as a top priority for 2018. He also addressed the growing opioid crisis in America, saying that the country “must get tougher” on drug dealers and pushers but not offering any further commentary on what his administration plans to do about this overwhelming problem. Other brief remarks include support for paid family leave and the fact that the FDA approved more generic drugs and medical devices last year than ever before.

Trump’s speech centered on “faith and family,” highlighting his stance of “America first” that undermined his popularity throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Focusing on the economy may have been a smart move in a country that’s been radically divided over racial issues, immigration and healthcare in recent months. As anticipated, the president took a bipartisan tone in addressing members of Congress and the American people.

At one point, Trump called on Congress “to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people. This is really the key. These are the people we were elected to serve.”

This bipartisan tone and Trump’s insistence on Congress coming together in other areas of government could translate into a bipartisan healthcare reform effort, though nothing concrete was mentioned or even alluded to in the 90-minute address. As political pundits unpack the president’s first SOTU, there will be little in the way of healthcare commentary to offer a clear picture on the direction that Trump’s administration plans to take.