President Biden gave the State of the Union (SOTU) address on March 1, 2022. In his speech, he covered international affairs and domestic matters affecting the workplace.
Insulin currently costs hundreds of dollars per month with Biden proposing a $35 per month cap on insulin prices. Similarly, it was proposed that Medicare have the ability to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs based on the model from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
In the SOTU, mental health was a major talking point, having an implementation strategy from the White House. The strategy included investing $700 million in mental health programs, training additional mental health professionals, and providing additional access to mental health services through health plans. It also included increasing access to resources in schools and colleges, implementing a “988” mental health hotline, and investigating the potential harms of social media. The SOTU gave top priority to the mental health of children and veterans.
Changes in the Workplace
Congress was asked to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act which addresses the gender pay gap. Congress was also asked to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act to strengthen federal laws protecting employees’ rights to bargain and organize. Biden also expressed a desire to implement paid leave and raise minimum wage to $15 an hour.
On average, an American family spends $14,000 a year per child on childcare, and Biden proposes to cut childcare costs in half for most families. The plan includes Pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old child, home and long-term care, and more affordable housing. Specifics on this proposal have yet to be released.
It’s important to note not every topic covered in the SOTU will come to fruition. The State of the Union is an opportunity for the president to address the country and detail how he’d like to change the country over the course of a year or more. In the coming weeks, employers should look for more details on the SOTU proposals.
For more detailed information on the employee benefits mentioned in the State of the Union address, click here.