Inflation Reduction Act White House
President Joe Biden gestures for the crowd to sit before speaking during his visit to Irvine Valley Community College, in Orange County on Oct. 14. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In his second day in the Southland, President Joe Biden traveled to Orange County Friday and promoted his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug and medical costs for families.

Biden departed from Santa Monica Airport shortly before 2 p.m. en route to John Wayne Airport. A short time later, he spoke to a crowd at Irvine Valley College.

There he highlighted what he called cost-saving measures in the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, caps the cost senior citizens are charged for prescriptions and lowers insulin prescriptions to $35 for Medicare beneficiaries.

“We took on Big Pharma and we beat them, finally,” Biden said.

He also criticized Republicans for opposing the inflation legislation, warning that they are intent on undoing its provisions if they regain control in Washington as a result of the Nov. 8 midterms.

“Now congressional Republicans are telling us their number one priority is to repeal, if they win back the House and Senate, repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said. ” … Let’s be crystal clear what that means – if the Republicans in Congress have their way, it’s going to mean the power we just gave Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and other costs over time goes away, gone. The $2,000 cap on prescription drugs goes away, gone … Savings from heath care premiums for millions of Americans, gone.

“So please hear this, when it actually comes time to do something about inflation around the kitchen table, Republicans in Congress are saying no. If Republicans take control, prices are going to go up, as will inflation.”

Biden heaped praise on Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, who introduced him at the college. He called the congresswoman a “fighter, decent and honorable and everyone respects you. You get a lot done.”

Porter blamed “Big Pharma” for spending $57 million in advertising to block the law allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices because “they want to line their pockets with our tax dollars … Corporate greed worsens health outcomes, rips off taxpayers and threatens capitalist competition.”

Biden also railed against Republican proposals to have Congress vote every five years on funding Medicare and Social Security.

“And they’re still determined to get rid of the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said of the policy enacted under former President Barack Obama. “If Republicans have their way that’s gone as well.”

The California Republican Party lashed out at the president’s record on inflation, noting that it is at nearly a 40-year high, including a 13% rise in the cost of groceries since last year and local gas prices that top $6 per gallon.

“Californians are struggling thanks to Joe Biden, (Democratic Rep.) Katie Porter and California Democrats’ reckless and radical policies,” state Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement. “Voters know who’s responsible for the strain on their wallets today, and no amount of Southern California photo ops, fundraisers, chicken quesadillas or victory laps will save Democrats at the ballot box this November.”

Ahead of the Orange County visit, Biden signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to explore other ways of driving down prescription drug costs.

The order directs HHS to submit a report in 90 days for not only reducing drug costs, but also promoting access to “innovative drug therapies” for Medicare recipients, according to the White House.

Biden’s motorcade was greeted in Irvine by more than 1,000 raucous protesters calling for Democracy in Iran, where anti-government demonstrations have raged for several weeks.

The president referred to the protests in his remarks, saying that the U.S. stood with the Iranian people.

“He was moved by the protests that he saw from … Iranian Americans who were there,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said later. “It struck him and he wanted to comment about that at the top.”

Following his Irvine appearance, Biden returned to John Wayne Airport for a flight to Portland, Ore. to campaign for a Democratic candidate for governor, Tina Kotek. Biden was last in Los Angeles in June, serving as a host of the Summit of the Americas and speaking at Democratic National Committee fundraisers.

– Staff and wire reports



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Ellen Bullock