Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie Opening Statement at Hearing on HHS’ FY 24 Budget
Washington, D.C. — Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) delivered the following opening statement at today’s Health Subcommittee hearing titled “Fiscal Year 2024 Department of Health and Human Services Budget.”
Excerpts and highlights below:
PRESIDENT BIDEN’S UNSERIOUS BUDGET
“Today we are here to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“First, I want to say I have great concerns about the budget. After driving up inflation and federal spending, the president put forth an almost $7 trillion budget.
“In the HHS budget specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gets a significant increase in funding.
“Why should taxpayers give over even higher levels of spending to the CDC?
“Public trust in the CDC has been eroded due political response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The CDC is in need of serious reforms to restore public trust and needs to get back to its core mission.
“The HHS budget also has unfunded mandates on state Medicaid programs.
“The President also touts his budget increases Medicare solvency for another 25 years. This would be done through increases in taxes on American households and more price controls to forcibly set the prices for pharmaceutical drugs.
“These efforts will ultimately backfire and lead to even fewer life-saving cures for our seniors.”
ADDRESSING THE FENTANYL CRISIS
“On fentanyl, the President recently stated that ‘MAGA House Republican proposals would slash funding for border security—a move that could allow nearly 900 pounds of fentanyl in our country.’
“Clearly, the President and his team failed to check the Customs and Border Patrol’s website before releasing his budget proposal.
“Under the President’s watch, Customs and Border Patrol has seized over 11,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl at our Southwest Border.
“That’s just in the first six months of this fiscal year and represents nearly the total amount seized in all of fiscal year 2022.
“Those are just fentanyl seizures, not what is trafficked without being seized by Customs and Border Patrol.
“At the same time, drug overdoses eclipsed 107,000 in 2021, the highest ever in the United States.
“More than 70,000 of these deaths were from synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.
“President Biden’s budget uses the word ‘fentanyl’ twice compared to the 42 times it mentions ‘climate change.’
“This is unfair to the thousands of families across the country who have lost a loved one to fentanyl poisoning.
“I call on the administration to join us in supporting a class-wide ban on fentanyl-related substances.
“The HALT Fentanyl Act would do that. This bill was passed out of this committee less than a week ago with bipartisan support.
“It is long past time we permanently scheduled all fentanyl-related substances in schedule I.”
HARMING AMERICA’S SENIORS
“The administration has also claimed to be working to increase access to care and promote health equity.
“However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently declined to cover an entire class of FDA-approved Alzheimer’s treatments for Medicare patients.
“This significantly reduced access to care for minority and rural patient populations with no other options to treat this treacherous disease.
“The Biden administration also proposed cutting health care benefits for millions of Americans who receive health insurance through the ACA exchanges.
“Most recently, the Biden administration proposed slashing Medicare payments for drugs approved through the Accelerated Approval pathway.
“I was hoping that this budget might offer a focus on policies that we can work together on.
“This committee held a bipartisan hearing yesterday on the issue of health care affordability, most namely highlighting ways in which we can empower patients through greater price transparency.
“Failure to mention price transparency in the HHS budget is a real missed opportunity, considering all of the bipartisan support for greater transparency across the health care system.
“I invite the Secretary to work with this committee on this issue.
“In closing, I do thank the Secretary for being here today and know that, although we disagree on how to achieve our goals, we do share similar goals.
“To that end, I believe we can work on each of these pressing issues in a bipartisan fashion.”