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White House physician says visits by neurologist were part of Biden's routine physicals

President  Biden pauses during the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27in Atlanta.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
President Biden pauses during the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27in Atlanta.

The White House physician says a neurological specialist has only visited President Biden as part of routine physicals, following questions about Biden’s fitness for office. Other visits by the specialist to the White House were to treat military personnel who experience neurological issues related to their service, the White House physician added in a letter issued on Monday.

The White House has disclosed after each of the president’s three annual medical reports that he has been seen by a neurologist, among many other specialists, who looked at whether there were signs of conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ALS.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that a neurologist has visited the White House eight times in the past eight months, according to visitor logs.

Asked about the report in Monday’s briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted the three disclosures, and said that Biden had seen a neurologist three times in connection with the physicals.

She said that the White House Medical Unit cares for a large number of people on the White House complex and declined to provide details about why a specialist had visited the campus other times, citing privacy reasons.

Jean-Pierre said Biden was not being treated for Parkinson’s and was not taking medication for it. She noted that Biden regularly checks in with his team of doctors at the White House Medical Unit.

In his letter released by the White House Monday night, White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said he received special permission to disclose additional details about the specialist, Dr. Kevin Cannard, and his examinations, a departure from standard practice.

O’Connor said Cannard has been the neurology consultant to the White House medical unit since 2012.

“Seeing patients at the White House is something Dr. Cannard has been doing for a dozen years,” the letter states. “Dr. Cannard was chosen for this not because he’s a movement disorder specialist, but because he is a highly trained and highly regarded neurologist here at Walter Reed and across the military health system, with a very wide expertise which makes him flexible to see a variety of patients and problems.”

After this year’s physical exam, O’Connor’s public letter on Feb. 28 concluded that “there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder,” such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s.

Calls for Biden to step down from his reelection bid have grown since a debate with former President Donald Trump in which he struggled to convey his message and even form basic sentences at points. The White House has described the performance as a singular, bad night, while even other Democrats are publicly questioning whether Biden can serve another term.

Biden has vowed to stay at the top of the Democratic ticket.

In an interview with ABC News on Friday, Biden dismissed the suggestion that he could take an independent medical evaluation — including a neurological and cognitive test — to show he's fit to serve another term.

"I have a cognitive test every single day," Biden said. "Not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world" as president of the United States.

Copyright 2024 NPR

NPR Washington Desk
[Copyright 2024 NPR]