VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – President Joe Biden outlined the tenants of his health care proposal Tuesday during an address which contrasted his plans with that MAGA Republicans who he said would make deep cuts in programs that, in particular, support families and seniors.
Biden gave his roughly 30-minute address to a mostly receptive and packed Kempsville Recreation Center gym in Virginia Beach, flying in and out of the city on Air Force One through Naval Air Station Oceana.
Biden sought to highlight how the White House believes Congressional Republicans would raise health care costs, including for seniors, while causing millions of people to lose their coverage.
However, Biden noted how some taxes would go up for some Americans.
“When I introduce my budget, you’ll see that it’s going to invest in America, lower health costs and protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare while cutting the deficit more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years,” Biden said. “But, by the way, I want to make it clear I’m going to raise some taxes. Many of you are billionaires out there. You’re going to stop paying at 3%. Not a joke.”
Biden said people making less than $400,000 “will not pay an additional single penny in any tax.”
The president, who gave his remarks just after 3 p.m., thanked Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer for his graciousness, as he acknowledged the Hampton Roads’ mayors in attendance.
The president also noted Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as well as Rep. Bobby Scott, who were all in Washington, D.C. Scott was there to introduce the Pro Act (Protecting the Right to Organize Act), a bill to give unions an equal right to organize and collectively bargain.
“It’s great to be back in Virginia Beach, home of many brave women and men who serve our Armed Forces and make this nation so strong,” Biden said.
Scott, in a statement, said he was grateful for Biden’s visit to Virginia Beach to highlight what he said was the work congressional Democrats and the president’s administration has put in “to expand access to health care and lower the costs of care and prescription drugs.”
“President Biden again made it clear that this Administration will continue fighting to lower costs for families and protect Social Security and Medicare,” Scott said. “President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ agenda stands in stark contrast to the extreme MAGA agenda of House Republicans who have used their new majority to protect corporations, the wealthy and well-connected. They also seem more than willing to bring the nation to the brink of an economic disaster by not honestly working with the President and Congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, which was increased four times under President Trump without fanfare.”
Biden, in his speech, called out “MAGA Republicans” and said that “we’ve got no business playing politics with lives.”
“If MAGA Republicans try to take away people’s health care by gutting Medicaid (and) the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said, “I will stop them.”
However, Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va., 2nd District) said in a statement Biden was using the issue as “a partisan publicity stunt” and that his visit was an attempt “to mislead my constituents about benefit cuts I actively oppose.”
“Instead of joining me and my Republican colleagues in a commonsense conversation about how to strengthen Medicare and lower healthcare costs,” Kiggans said, “he painted this red versus blue picture to scare seniors and others who rely on these critical programs.
“Like so many across the country, they are fearful about how to pay for their healthcare costs as inflation under this Administration continues to chip away at family budgets.”
Biden, in his remarks, said 40 million Americans are in danger of losing health insurance as he said changes to the Republicans’ plans would raise health care costs for seniors and those who are disabled.
“We all know too many folks don’t have that piece of mind, lying in bed at night wondering what will happen if the child gets sick, or have the money to pay the bills, I get it,” Biden said. “That’s why my administration is focusing intensely on getting more people affordable healthcare.”
Nikia Miller, a diabetic, brought her daughter to support the president and the Affordable Care Act and were able to meet Biden.
“Without insurance, my insulin will cost $4,000 a month,” Miller said. “Thank God we have insurance and I don’t have to pay that. So many Americans don’t have that option.”
Thomas Orsini, president and CEO of Lake Taylor Transitional Care, believes the Biden Administration wants to keep affordable healthcare for those that need it. He said the Affordable Care Act is actually working.
“Now, especially coming out of the pandemic … people are looking for healthcare, as well, to go forward,” Orsini said. “More people are conscious of how important health care is. This is a nice program and it’s easy to use in our population.”
Biden is set to lay out his plans March 9 before lawmakers.
It’s been two years since Biden has been in Hampton Roads; the last time he was on the Peninsula.
As he reflected on COVID-19 cases and thanked the nurses, medical staff and other healthcare workers in attendance, Biden said that it has been his focus to reduce the cost of health care.
“Now it’s time to finish the job,” Biden said.