Biden asks Congress for $12B to fund women's health research

President Joe Biden urged Congress to adopt a $12 billion plan to fund women’s health research, including conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, Alzheimer’s disease and endometriosis.

“Women are more than half of our population but research on women’s health has always been underfunded,” Biden said in his prepared State of the Union remarks Thursday evening.

The initiative, originally launched in November 2023, is being led by First Lady Jill Biden. The president called on lawmakers to pass a plan to fund it with $12 billion to “transform women’s health research and benefit millions of lives across America.”

If the plan were adopted, the White House plans to use the cash to start a new fund at the National Institutes of Health to create an interdisciplinary research agenda and a new nationwide network of research centers of excellence and innovation in women’s health.

The goal is also to bring together private and philanthropic commitments to boost funding for women’s health research.

“These new resources will make investments that maximize our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat health conditions in women and ensure women get the answers they need when it comes to their health,” the White House explained in a fact sheet that accompanied the announcement.

Joe Biden, President, First Lady Jill Biden, Maria Shriver, women's health
President Joe Biden signs a presidential memorandum establishing the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research on Nov. 13, 2023, with First Lady Jill Biden (L) and Maria Shriver (R).  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

At the State of the Union, the First Lady hosted Maria Shriver, who was on hand in November when the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research was launched. Shriver brought the idea to the White House, urging the administration to close research gaps in women’s health.

In February, Jill Biden announced $100 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to launch the “Sprint for Women’s Health,” which will fund discoveries for diseases that affect women.

“We are going to invest in your discoveries early, when private companies may not be willing to take the risk. We are going to give women’s health researchers and startups the funding they need to grow and help them bring ideas to market—and to the women who need them most,” the First Lady said at the time.

Jill Biden specifically singled out migraines, heart attacks and menopause as key women’s health issues that have long been underfunded.

After receiving the first $100 million jolt of funding, ARPA-H is now working on issuing requests for solutions funding opportunities, which will seek ideas for research and development in women’s health. The ideas will also encompass accelerating tools, products and platforms that could be commercialized to improve women’s health outcomes. 

Besides women's health, Biden's much-anticipated speech touched on healthcare issues such as abortion, IVF, prescription drug costs and insurance coverage.