This week the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees held hearings with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the details of the President’s HHS Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget proposals that are within the Committees’ jurisdictions. On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted his FY 2013 budget proposal to Congress, including over $940 billion in outlays for HHS.
On Tuesday, February 28, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) presided over his Committee’s hearing. He opened by welcoming and thanking the only witness for accepting the invitation to testify before the Committee. Sebelius outlined some of her department’s budget highlights, including making investments to the healthcare workforce, community supports, and high quality early education (Head Start). Despite the fact that the hearing was intended to discuss the HHS FY 2013 budget proposal as a whole, Members of the Committee spent the majority of the hearing expressing their support and/or disappointment in the Administration’s handling of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Sebelius confirmed her commitment to working with Congress to ensure the successful implementation of the law. Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Geoff Davis (R-KY) did however, inquire about how some of the human services programs could be better integrated to support the families served by the programs.
On Thursday, March 1, 2012, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), held a separate hearing to examine the budget with respect the to portions of the budget that fall under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee. The testimony on behalf of HHS, covered much of the same material presented at the Ways and Means hearing earlier in the week.
In the coming weeks, other committees with jurisdiction over various programs and departments within the Administration will be holding hearings on the FY 2013 budget proposal. The Budget Committee has already held a couple of hearings examining the budget request submitted by the President, which also consisted of testimony from Administration officials explaining the President’s budget recommendations.