Biden's health: Doctor's letter addresses Parkinson's concerns

The White House on Monday night released a letter from President Biden's doctor responding to questions about the president's health. The letter was released just hours after the White House press secretary refused to answer repeated questions about whether several recent visits to the White House by a specialist in Parkinson's disease directly involved the president. When the press secretary was pressed for specifics about those visits, things got a bit testy.

"What I can share with you is that the president has seen a neurologist for his physical three times, three times, and it is in the reporting that we share a comprehensive reporting pattern. Matter of fact, it's more than what the last guy shared," the press secretary said.

The doctor's letter released Monday night confirmed the press secretary's statement that President Biden has never been treated for Parkinson's.

President Biden's performance at the June 27 presidential debate has raised concerns about his age, health, and ability to lead. Administration officials blamed his confused answers at the debate on a head cold, jet lag, and poor preparation at Camp David. At 81, Biden's health has become a key issue for many voters ahead of the November election.

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Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physician, issued his first comment since the debate, after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to address questions about the president’s health.

Biden has extensive yearly physical exams, Jean-Pierre said, adding that most Americans don’t understand the extent of the medical care provided to the president. Biden does a "verbal check-in with his doctor while he’s exercising" a couple of times a week, including on Monday.

There was confusion about whether Biden saw his doctor about his cold after the debate. The White House initially said there was no medical exam but later clarified there was a "short verbal check-in" and no exam was needed.

Jean-Pierre reiterated that Biden has seen a neurologist three times, all tied to his annual physical exams. However, she declined to specify the location of these visits. The most recent physical, issued in February, reported no signs of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. The report, written by O'Connor, stated that Biden "demonstrates excellent fine motor dexterity."

Visitor logs show that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s, visited the White House eight times between July 2023 and March. Jean-Pierre declined to confirm Cannard’s name or reason for his visits, citing security reasons and noting the White House medical unit treats many people besides the president.

Later, O’Connor confirmed that Cannard evaluated Biden at each of his three physicals since taking office. Most of Cannard’s visits were related to his role with the White House Medical Unit, treating various patients over a dozen years. Cannard had also visited during the Obama and Trump administrations.

Jean-Pierre was asked if Biden could release his full medical records. She said the president had shared a comprehensive medical report similar to those provided by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.