On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will make the final State of the Union address of his soon-to-be eight year administration.

Previous SOTU’s have garnered plenty of Republican criticism, memeworthy moments courtesy of both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and impassioned pleas to the public and Congress members alike to unite and craft together legislation aimed at improving the lives of everyday Americans. While that passion will undoubtedly be in full supply tonight, it’s likely that Obama’s aim Tuesday will be narrower, complete with a retrospective of his office’s accomplishments and a forceful argument for the present and future policies he feels Americans deserve.

In a video previewing the SOTU, Obama made it clear that he would not just focus on the “remarkable progress we’ve made, not just what I want to get done in the year ahead, but what we all need to do together in the years to come: The big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids.”

It's also likely a substantial slice of Obama’s speech will touch on healthcare and other issues relevant to medicine. So with that in mind, here are Medical Daily’s predictions on how exactly Obama will discuss health and medicine tonight.

The Affordable Care Act

No reflection of Obama's presidential legacy would be complete without discussing the signature piece of legislation passed by his office and mockingly named after him in 2010.

Away from the ludicrous Republican claims of “death panels”or the rose-colored glasses of partisan defenders, and with the reality of having seen Obamacare in action for two years, Obama will have solid ground to declare the ACA an overall, if imperfect, success.

The ACA, after all, was primarily intended to provide or make possible insured medical care to those without insurance, and by that measure, it’s working. 2014 saw the largest drop in the uninsured rate since 1987, according to an analysis conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, from 13.3 percent of the U.S. in 2012 to 10.4 percent. In the first quarter of 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that rate to be 9.2 percent.

Yet there have been wrinkles with the ACA, with some insurers and enrollees complaining their costs and prices are higher than advertised, And legally, there are still lawsuits centered around dismantling certain ACA provisions, particularly with religious organizations being forced to insure birth control. Which brings us to:


During last year's SOTU, President Obama expressed a hope that despite not agreeing with the pro-choice movement, Americans and lawmakers on both sides of the fence could agree that women are entitled to basic healthcare without harassment.

Unfortunately, that hope was dashed repeatedly throughout 2015, with campaigns aimed squarely at dismantling abortion clinic access state by state; discredited “sting” operations that painted Planned Parenthood as pirates who sold body parts from late-term abortions to make a big profit; and of course, a terrorist attack on a PP clinic that saw anti-abortion politicians brush away their rhetoric as partly responsible for stoking the flames of hatred towards abortion workers.

Given that his office has continued to stand behind Planned Parenthood throughout these attacks, as well as donated its time in legal proceedings to argue against the shutting down of clinics in Texas, I'd expect Obama to make a strong statement on the necessity of abortion access as a means of ensuring women’s health.

Gun Control

With the recent announcement of his planned executive orders to directly address gun control, it's hard to imagine Obama glossing over the topic in his SOTU. Indeed, Obama will leave empty a seat next to Michelle Obama in order to represent gun victims.

No doubt he will reemphasize the reasoning behind his actions, which include tightening loopholes that allow some to bypass background checks, and increased funding sent to the research and development of smart gun technology that will prevent children and others from mistakenly using guns to hurt themselves or others.

Another action, aimed at providing $500 million to increase access to mental health care, will allow him to address the ongoing stigma and misconceptions that surround mental illness. He will hopefully remind us that though certain disorders like schizophrenia are somewhat linked to more violence among sufferers, the vast majority of people living with mental illnesses are more at risk of being a victim of crime than to commit one themselves.

All of these executive actions will likely be framed as urgent public health solutions, and for good reason. Doctors and researchers alike have known for the longest time that the possession of or access to a gun is a risk factor for suicide and other violent acts, and children who live in areas where firearms are more prevalent are more likely to be killed by them.

Expect Obama to allude to these facts as part of his case for smart, “commonsense” gun control.

Do you think there are any other issues relevant to health he might address? Perhaps health concerns over fracking or the still rising costs of prescription medications? Will there be a Pharmabro reference or two sprinkled in? Let us know in the comments.