President Biden visits Ohio State Wexner Medical Center to mark legislative milestones
Biden hopes to preside over “ending cancer as we know it”
President Joe Biden visited The Ohio State University today to mark two key legislative accomplishments and to celebrate the work of health care professionals leading the fight against cancer.
Biden visited the OhioState Wexner Medical Center and Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute to recognize the 11-year anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan. Biden was vice president when the ACA became law, and the rescue plan is the first major legislation passed during his presidency.
Funding from the ACA supported the university’s commitment to expanding access to cancer care in Ohio. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Wexner Medical Center a $100 million grant in 2010 to fund the addition of a floor in the new James dedicated to radiation oncology.
“Because of our investments, this department has gone from being able to treat 60 to 70 patients a day to treating nearly 300 a day,” Biden said. “This place is a source of hope.”
Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson worked with Biden when she was an under-secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama administration. She said she was pleased the president toured the cancer center and affirmed her commitment to a healthier community.
“Ohio State is committed to working with all our city, state and federal partners to provide access to outstanding health care in our communities,” she commented after the visit.
Biden said he wants to see the federal government invest in research and development in health care in the same way the U.S. Department of Defense invests in new technology. Those investments, he noted, led to the creation of GPS navigation and the internet.
“When I ran, I said I wanted to be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it,” he said. “When you see the strides we made, when you talk to the [doctors] and the researchers, I can tell you, it’s within our reach.”
The president highlighted the importance of the ACA in providing access to health care: The Wexner Medical Center has seen a 60% decrease in uninsured patients since 2014, and the state’s uninsured rate fell by almost half since the ACA took effect in 2010.
Tameka Hairston, associate director of the University Hospital East resource management and social work department, said she has seen the impact of insurance accessibility for patients in Ohio.
“We are now at a point to where patients and families do not need to use the emergency department as the primary entry into our health care system,” she said. “This, as we all know, leads to better outcomes for patients and their families.”
Biden said the American Rescue Plan builds on the ACA by supporting insurance premiums and benefits that reduce the costs of the portable insurance provided to people who have lost their jobs. The legislation also includes more funding for vaccines, for the health care providers who deliver the injections, and for the community sites that help put shots in arms.
The president called on the country to continue the public health guidelines that have become commonplace during the pandemic: mask wearing, physical distancing and proper hygiene.
“If we all do our part, after a long dark year, we can show we are still the United States of America. We’re going to beat this pandemic, and because of the great docs up this staircase,” he said, referring to Ohio State physicians who met with him today, “we’re going to beat cancer once and for all."