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Engel Grills Sec. Azar on "Unacceptable" HHS Budget Proposal

Engel Grills Sec. Azar on “Unacceptable” HHS Budget Proposal

Engel calls the budget a “direct threat” to the well-being of all Americans

Washington, D.C.–Congressman Eliot Engel, a top member on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, grilled Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar at a subcommittee hearing over the Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts to HHS. Calling the budget proposal “completely unacceptable,” Engel derided the 12 percent decrease in funding, which included deep cuts to Medicaid ($1.5 trillion) and Medicare ($500 billion).

Excerpts from Rep. Engel’s subcommittee hearing remarks can be found below:

 

“Thank you Secretary Azar for being here today.

“15 months ago, the GOP Tax Scam bill passed and was signed into law. I said at the time, and it’s even more true today, the impact of that legislation has led to exploding deficits, and the President’s budget calling for a 12% decrease in the HHS budget.

“This budget continues to promote the long-sought goal of dismantling the Affordable Care Act by another failed attempt at ‘Repeal and Replace’ of the law, and weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  This would leave millions of Americans without meaningful health insurance.

“Over 10 years, this budget calls for a $1.5 trillion cut in Medicaid and a $500 billion cut in Medicare, partially offset by inadequate investments in health plans which bypass consumer protections.  The cut in Medicaid is approximately 1 in 4 dollars spent today, resulting in millions of Americans losing their coverage. Most of the Medicare cuts will come from reducing payments to doctors and hospitals, causing further hardships for our healthcare providers.

“As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am particularly opposed to cuts in funding for global AIDS programs. There’s a 22% cut in PEPFAR, used to treat millions internationally, mostly in Africa.  There’s also a proposal to water down the U.S. contribution in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria from $1.35 to $1.1 billion.

“Inexplicitly, we also see budget slashes to the CDC of nearly 10%.  Funding for the NIH takes a 12% cut of $4.5 billion, with the National Cancer Institute absorbing most of that hit.

“Mr. Secretary, this HHS budget is completely unacceptable, and is a direct threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.”