WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at a Committee hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposals with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good afternoon and welcome to today’s hearing. Today our Committee is honored to welcome our good friend and former colleague Doctor Tom Price to testify on President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposals for the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here and welcome back. We look forward to your testimony.
“As a former member of this Committee for over six years, you have been closely involved with our efforts to improve the health care and welfare programs under our jurisdiction. Your work and leadership on the Committee helped set the stage for many of the crucial reforms we are pursuing today.
“Already this year, we are moving forward with solutions to repeal Obamacare – which continues to hurt millions of Americans – and enact step-by-step reforms to return patient-centered health care to the American people.
“We are taking action on welfare reforms that will help more Americans move out of poverty and up the economic ladder.
“And, building off the historic Medicare payment reforms enacted last Congress, we are working to improve choice, affordability, and quality in Medicare for current and future beneficiaries.
“We are pleased to see many of these priorities reflected in President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposals for the Department of Health and Human Services.
“For example, the President’s budget makes important strides to reduce inefficient and wasteful spending.
“It reflects our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“It removes burdensome regulations harming the patient-doctor relationship.
“And, the budget expects all those who can work to work – which is the surest way to economic independence – while prioritizing federal resources to provide real help to those most in need.
“Although more must be done to preserve and strengthen Medicare for the long term, the President’s budget reflects a meaningful step toward improving America’s health care system.
“Today, we are eager to explore ways we can work with President Trump and with Doctor Price to advance solutions that will improve the lives of all Americans.
“When it comes to health care, we know that true patient-centered reform is urgently needed.
“Obamacare is imploding as we speak. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing. Choices are disappearing rapidly.
“With the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act, we have taken a critical first step in our multi-phase effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. But we know there is more work to do.
“To fully uproot the law and restore patient-centered care, it will take a sustained, coordinated effort from Congress, the White House, and HHS.
“In the immediate term, action must be taken to stabilize the individual insurance market and protect Americans from the consequences of Obamacare’s collapse. We must work together to provide the certainty and appropriate resources to protect low-income Americans who have been forced to rely on Obamacare’s deteriorating exchanges.
“Obamacare forced millions of Americans into a poorly designed, government-run marketplace. Now plans are disappearing in Texas and throughout the country, leaving many low-income families with few – if any – places to turn for coverage.
“Obamacare’s design flaws were not the fault of the American people. The people now trapped in Obamacare did what the government mandated them to do – they complied with the law. They should not be left out to dry.
“As the Senate considers the AHCA, we must work together to deliver an expedited solution to help stabilize the insurance market and help lower premiums for Americans trapped in Obamacare today. We should act within our constitutional authority now to temporarily and legally fund Cost Sharing Reduction payments as we move away from Obamacare and toward a patient-centered system that truly works for the American people.
“Insurers have made clear the lack of certainty is causing 2018 proposed premiums to rise significantly. When these payments are funded by Congress, families trapped in Obamacare should expect these proposed premiums to be reduced significantly.
“And when it comes to our nation’s welfare system, it’s clear that our anti-poverty programs are not delivering positive results for the American people. We have not seen major progress in moving families forward, despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year.
“We can and must do better. And it all starts with a simple and powerful principle: the best anti-poverty program is a job.
“We must emphasize work in exchange for welfare benefits. We must focus on positive outcomes. And we must ensure that taxpayer funds are directed to evidence-based programs that truly deliver results for Americans in need.
“The current challenges we face in health care and welfare cannot be solved with a top-down, “Washington knows best” approach. That model has failed the American people time and again over the past eight years.
“It’s time to go in a new direction – one where workers, families, job creators, and states are in the driver’s seat. And, most important, it’s time to get our economy moving again.
“Mr. Secretary, we are committed to working with you, with President Trump, and with the Trump Administration to accomplish these crucial goals. And, with today’s conversation, we can continue moving forward together on solutions to improve the lives of all Americans.
“Again, we are grateful for your time and we look forward to your testimony.”