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Opening Statement of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) Appropriations Committee Consideration of the FY 2013 LHHS Appropriations Bill

June 14, 2012

Opening Statement of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) Appropriations Committee Consideration of the FY 2013 LHHS Appropriations Bill

*As prepared for delivery*

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  A few minutes ago, every Republican on the Committee voted against reporting out the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

“This is disappointing.  I would have preferred to work together to produce a bipartisan bill, as was the norm for so many years on this Committee.

“I understand that the two parties have their differences on health care reform.  We will get to express those differences shortly through the amendment process.  But the Affordable Care Act is the law.  We have a responsibility 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 $100 million increases both for Title I grants to school districts and for special education state grants.

“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.
“I’d like to spend another minute on prevention because there’s been a lot of confusion – perhaps deliberate, perhaps not – about the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

“The money for that fund is not appropriated in this bill.  The Prevention Fund was appropriated in the Affordable Care Act.  It’s mandatory funding, not discretionary funding.

“What this bill does is allocate the Prevention Fund.  The Affordable Care Act gives the Appropriations Committee the authority to say exactly how every penny of that Fund should be spent.

“I would direct Members to page 175 of the Senate report before you, and you can see that, indeed, it states specifically how the Department of Health and Human Services should spend the Prevention Fund in fiscal year 2013.  Under this bill, the administration will have no wiggle room.  They’ll have to follow this table.

“So when you hear Members on the other side describe the Prevention Fund as a “slush fund,” just remember this table.

“Finally, Mr. Chairman, 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.

“In summary, Mr. Chairman, this is a good bill, given the budget constraints, and I think it deserves the support of the entire Committee.”