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White House confirms details of Joe Biden’s February 16 physical

By Sarah May
|
February 2, 2023

After engaging in multiple postponements of promised appointments, President Joe Biden will, according to the White House, submit to an annual physical examination on Feb. 16, as the New York Post reports.

The news comes in the wake of a statement last month from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declaring that Biden would have his checkup by the end of January – a pledge that ultimately went unmet due to what she later called “just a matter of scheduling around what has been a busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

First exam since 2021

Biden's February date with the doctor will involve the first physical exam the president has had since November 2021, and given his suspected 2024 campaign ambitions, the results of the checkup will surely be received with great interest by members of the media.

Following Biden's last physical examination, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, physician to the president, issued a written report summarizing his findings and declaring the commander in chief “fit for duty” and capable of fully executing his responsibilities “without any exemptions or accommodations.”

Despite the aforementioned endorsement of Biden's ability to continue in his current role, O'Connor made two noteworthy observations, namely that the president had “experienced increasing frequency and severity of 'throat clearing' and coughing during speaking engagements” and that his “ambulatory gait is perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.”

In the summary portion of O'Connor's report, he declared that Biden's “current medical considerations” include atrial fibrillation, hyperlipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux, spinal arthritis, seasonal allergies, and mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of both feet, conditions for which he takes three prescription drugs and two over-the-counter medications to treat.

Cognitive questions remain

Notably absent from Biden's prior physical exam report, however, was any mention of cognitive testing, something a growing number of observers believe should be administered, given the president's advanced age and frequent bouts of confusion and gaffe-prone behavior.

As the Washington Examiner reports, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), himself a former physician, said this week that he believes Biden should indeed undergo a cognitive test as part of his annual checkup this month.

“I think it would be important to see a very thorough and comprehensive cognitive function study that is released with transparency to the general public,” DesJarlais declared.

The lawmaker continued, “The American people want to know that their commander in chief is fully capable of performing at the highest level to protect the safety and security of the nation.”

“Something going on with him”

Another legislator who has advocated for Biden to receive a comprehensive cognitive assessment is Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX-13), who also served as White House physician under former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Jackson has been urging Biden to undergo cognitive testing for quite some time, sending formal letters to the White House containing such a request on multiple occasions, communications which have gone unanswered by administration officials.

Some of Jackson's strongest comments about the need for a cognitive review “such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment” came last year, when he asserted that Biden “is not fit to be our president right now.”

Jackson added at the time, “The whole country is seeing his mental cognitive issues on display for over a year now, and there's really no question in most people's minds that there's something going on with him, that he's not cognitively the same as he used to be...,” but thus far, those entreaties have apparently been ignored.

Transparency concerns persist

With Biden's exam rapidly approaching, it remains to be seen whether O'Connor will be made available to the media to answer questions about his findings, or if – as was the case with the president's last physical as well as during his bouts with COVID-19 last year – he will be restricted to providing written assessments only.

The inability of journalists to ask follow-up questions of Biden's physician has elicited criticism in the past, with Fox News' medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel having pointed out what he described as worrisome gaps in the written report provided after the president's last checkup, particularly with regard to changes in his gait and what they might signify.

“If we're looking into neurological causes for the gait change, I don't think the way they characterize that in the physical is sufficient. I want more information. I want to know what the MRIs' show, and I want to know what the nerve conduction EMG shows to rule out things that are more extensive, that by the way, can be associated with cognitive changes like mental status, like dementia,” Siegel said at the time.

Should he win a second term in office, Biden will be 82 years old on Inauguration Day, and Siegel, Jackson, and DesJarlais are far from alone in thinking that the public deserves a heightened degree of transparency as to his physical and mental status, but whether the White House will be more forthcoming this time around, only time will tell.