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Congressional Committees Heavily Question HHS Secretary on President’s Budget

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Congressional Committees Heavily Question HHS Secretary on President’s Budget

March 18, 2019

ANCOR is sharing this article by Politico Pro to provide additional context to our feature article in this issue, by showing the initial stages of the budget discussion in Congress. While the article below focuses on only one of the two House committee hearings Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar testified in last week, the bipartisan nature of the criticism is revealing.

As shared by Politico Pro:

“HHS Secretary Alex Azar got a cold reception from Democrats and Republicans in the House Appropriations Labor-HHS subpanel today during his second day on Capitol Hill defending the Trump administration's budget proposal that would slash health spending in a number of areas.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the committee, called the cuts to the NIH, CDC and other departments and health programs "short-sighted" and "something I hope this Congress will not adopt."

[…]

Democrats aired even sharper criticisms of the budget, calling it "an attack on public health" and slamming the administration for investing more money in other priorities, including a multibillion-dollar effort to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and the tax cuts passed by the GOP-controlled Congress last year.”

Video of the other hearing, with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is available here. Additionally, the Secretary testified before the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicaid – video of that hearing is available here.

In general, Congressional discussion of the HHS budget to date has focused on Medicaid expansion, an issue connected to Medicaid workforce requirements, and family separations (because HHS is responsible for the care of children separate from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border). ANCOR will keep members informed as Congress starts to build its funding legislation.