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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Hearing on Biden’s FY 2024 Budget Request with HHS Secretary Becerra

March 28, 2023

As prepared for delivery.


Thank you, Secretary Becerra, for testifying today before this committee. 


“The President’s 2024 budget doubles down on harmful policies that will only make access and affordability of care worse: killing new medical innovation, false promises of Medicare solvency with real consequences, and more reckless spending on government subsidies for the wealthy.


“The President’s new budget expands Democrats’ harmful drug price controls, which mean higher prices for new medicines according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Regular folks will have less access to care and fewer new drugs – up to 342 fewer according to one study – with medical researchers already announcing suspending work on treatments for a rare eye disease and certain blood cancers. 


“On top of fewer and more expensive medicines for seniors, President Biden’s budget also cuts Medicare.


“For example, under current law, Medicare faces $500 billion in cuts created solely by Democrats’ spending spree. The President’s new budget presents no plan to stop them, and threatens seniors’ hard-earned benefits.


“It also proposes significant changes to Medicare Advantage which may negatively impact the 31 million Americans who rely on the program. These seniors who prefer Medicare Advantage plans need assurance from the Administration that their cost, coverage, and access to care will not be impacted. Republicans are committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare, which is why last week, all of the Republicans on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce sent you a letter about this issue. We look forward to your detailed response. 


“Additionally, this budget continues “welfare for the wealthy” by proposing another $183 billion in new Obamacare subsidies for wealthy people making as much as $600,000 a year. These Washington subsidies are a cause of inflation, not a solution. 


“I represent rural, working-class communities where access to health care is a major challenge. Health clinics and hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open to treat patients. The Biden Administration must prioritize better access to care for rural Americans.


“Thanks to the President’s policy failures, our economy is still struggling – and his refusal to change direction will only further undermine Medicare and Social Security. In fact, a University of Chicago analysis shows the President’s low-growth policies will reduce Medicare and Social Security financing by as much as nearly $900 billion – another direct threat to seniors’ health and retirement at the hands of this Administration. 


“This budget rehashes the same mistakes of more government price controls, false promises to seniors, and billions more in subsidies that drive health care inflation. House Republicans want to lower costs for working families, improve access to quality care, and protect Medicare. The Biden Administration should work with us to achieve these goals.”