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HEARING: Brady Opening Statement at Hearing with HHS Secretary Burwell

February 10, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement during the Ways and Means hearing on the President’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you for joining us today Secretary Burwell. We appreciate your time and welcome you to the Ways and Means Committee to speak about the President’s fiscal year 2017 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services.  

“I’d like to begin today by speaking generally about this year’s budget. Even though the President knows that he doesn’t have much time left in office to solve real problems, he has decided to put forward a budget that isn’t rooted in reality. For yet another year, his budget proposes trillions of dollars of new tax increases and more wasteful Washington spending.

“The President’s efforts to secure his liberal legacy don’t come cheap. While the United States likes to break records, the American people are not cheering for the most expensive budget in our nation’s history.

“The President has chosen to completely ignore the very real fiscal challenges our country faces in the immediate future. This budget is a missed opportunity – especially for the programs at your department that impact the lives of millions of Americans.

“For example, last year, when you testified at the Energy and Commerce Committee, you said that the Affordable Care Act was leading to substantial savings for households, businesses and the federal government.

“We know that’s not true today.

“In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently found that government spending on health care programs would grow from $1.1 trillion this year to $2 trillion in 2026. We also know that many Obamacare recipients are watching their premiums increase by double digits every year. And the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust fund that our seniors rely on will be exhausted in 2026.

“These are serious problems that need real solutions. But those solutions are nowhere to be found in this irresponsible and expensive budget.

“To add insult to injury, this budget also duplicates programs that already exist at your own agency. One proposal calls for a new program to provide short-term financial help to those in need, even though that is already the central purpose of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Another calls for a new home visiting program run by USDA, despite the current home visiting program run by HHS.

“Instead of duplicating programs that we already have, Washington needs to effectively reform our welfare programs and finally help more Americans climb the economic ladder through work.

“While we will disagree more than we agree today, I do believe that there are some important areas of cooperation. I’m glad that the White House has finally faced reality in one area and agreed that the so-called Cadillac tax is not workable.

“We must also work to put Medicare on a sustainable path. While we don’t agree with the specifics in the proposal presented today, we do agree we need to address spending on post-acute care and medical education.

“I believe we can also find some common ground in the TANF reauthorization proposal that includes many of the items that were released by this Committee last July in its TANF discussion draft.

“And when it comes to child welfare, there is broad agreement about the need to keep kids from entering foster care in the first place. We share the belief that all programs should be evaluated and held accountable for making positive difference in the lives of children across our country.

“Thank you again for joining us today.”