June 12, 2012
Chairman Harkin Opening Statement LHHS Subcommittee Mark Up
*As prepared for delivery*
“The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies will come to order.
“We are convened, today, to mark up the fiscal year 2013 Labor-HHS appropriations bill.
“This bill trains and protects American workers, provides the Nation’s youth with the skills they need to succeed, funds life-saving medical research, and targets fraud and abuse. It’s a good bill, given our budget constraints, and I believe it deserves the subcommittee’s support.
“I understand, however, that members of the minority will oppose the bill. I wish that weren’t the case. I would have preferred to work together to produce a bipartisan bill, as was the norm for so many years on this subcommittee.
“I recognize that funding for the Affordable Care Act is a big stumbling block for the other side. But it’s the law, so I have a responsibility as chairman of this subcommittee to ensure that HHS has the funding it needs to implement it.
“I also think there is much in this bill on which both parties can agree.
“First, it’s fiscally responsible. The bill adheres to the spending allocation that was agreed to by the full Appropriations Committee by a vote of 27 to 2.
“It also protects taxpayers by targeting fraud and abuse. For example, the bill includes $610 million for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control activities at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – almost double the amount from last year. We know that every dollar we spend on combating fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid generates $6 in savings, so this investment is a great deal for taxpayers.
“The bill also provides investments in key areas that will promote our Nation’s long-term economic prosperity. For example, it provides a $100 million increase for NIH, to help the United States remain the world leader in biomedical research.
“The bill also helps ensure that our young people have the quality education they need to get good jobs and compete in a global economy. To that end, the bill:
• Provides enough funding to increase the maximum Pell Grant award level to $5,635;
• Provides a $70 million increase for Head Start and a $160 million increase for child care; and
• Provides a $100 million increase for Title I grants to school districts.
“The bill also invests in prevention measures that will cut down on healthcare costs. For example, the bill doubles funding for the Diabetes Prevention Program, includes $558 million for childhood immunizations, and creates a new initiative to prevent elder falls.
“In addition, the bill includes several efforts to help people with disabilities participate fully in all aspects of life. In particular, the bill provides a $100 million increase for IDEA grants to States, and funds the second year of a new effort to help young people with disabilities enter and succeed in the workplace.
“Finally, I would note that the bill protects funding for several programs that are popular on both sides of the aisle, especially LIHEAP and Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education. The administration proposed deep reductions to both of these programs, but the bill rejects those cuts.
“Now, I yield to Senator Shelby for any comments he would like to make.”