DeLauro Statement at Hearing on Health & Human Services 2018 Budget Request
Good morning, Secretary Price, and welcome to our Subcommittee for your first appropriations hearing. We meet during perilous times for the future of healthcare in our country. While the coverage of 24 million Americans was protected last week when Speaker Ryan pulled a bill from the floor that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act, the fate of their healthcare now lies in your Administration’s hands.
I have been deeply disturbed by President Trump's recent threats to sabotage health insurance for the millions of Americans that rely on the Affordable Care Act every day. Last week, from the Oval Office he said, and I quote” “the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode.” On February 27, he told the National Governors Association, “Let it be a disaster, because we can blame the Democrats…politically, it would be a great solution.”
I find this callous speech insulting to the millions of workers, children, and older Americans whose futures are on the line—the health of the American people is not a political bargaining chip. Where are our values?
The idea that the President of the United States would intentionally undermine the health and financial security of millions of Americans, for personal political gain, is malicious. Mr. Secretary, I hope you will assure us today that you intend to use your position to strengthen the individual marketplace used by millions of Americans, instead of sabotaging it for political gain.
Moving from the failed repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the budget proposal—unfortunately, I do not have anything complimentary to say about your budget request. In fact, I think it is a disaster that will have literal life and death consequences for American families--$15 billion in cuts to HHS is untenable.
Much like Speaker Ryan’s healthcare bill that failed last week, the Trump Administration’s budget request for the Department Of Health and Human Services would eliminate critical resources and programs for low-income and working families. It would also decimate the National Institutes of Health—the world’s foremost biomedical research institution—and have severe negative consequences for public health departments across our country.
To be clear, President Trump is proposing to cut NIH funding by $6 billion, which is actually an understatement since we just saw that the Administration wants to cut $1.2 billion from NIH in 2017 as well.
Cutting billions from NIH would be devastating to cancer research, Alzheimer’s research, HIV/AIDS research, as well as research to prevent or cure any other disease that is causing misery for millions of Americans and their families. Make no mistake—this cut will turn back the clock on lifesaving biomedical research that has the power to save lives.
Mr. Secretary—we need to know today: do you agree that we should cut $6 billion from the NIH? [That is $6 billion below what you voted for in the Omnibus in December].
Insufficient funding means thousands of fewer grants, which translates to medical discoveries not being made—lives not being saved. We are choosing to hamper our progress as a nation. We are choosing to ravage our medical community. It makes you wonder—what are we talking about here today?
President Trump is also proposing to eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – which allocates $3.4 billion each year to help pay heating and cooling bills for nearly 7 million low-income households. Earlier this week I heard from constituents who depend on LIHEAP—they rely on the program to keep their children healthy, to keep their families safe. And Trump is proposing to eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, or CSBG: a critical program that connects people with job training, nutrition programs, LIHEAP and more.
President Trump is proposing to slash funding that the CDC gives to state public health departments, which would drastically reduce surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing, as well as immunizations and emergency preparedness activities in the states.
In each of these cases, President Trump is proposing to eliminate programs that help low-income and working-class families – often the same families that put their faith in him during last year’s campaign – or he is proposing to cut programs like the NIH and CDC that benefit all Americans. At the same time, he is preparing to introduce a massive tax cut for corporations and millionaires—just as he did in the failed healthcare bill last week.
For decades, Republicans have advocated massive cuts to health and education funding—such as with HR 1, the first thing Republicans did when they took the majority, which proposed cutting NIH by $1.6 billion and CDC by 10 percent. Unfortunately, President Trump’s budget is finally showing the destructive impact those cuts would have on our communities:
- Cuts to medical research; Cuts to public health departments; Cuts to home-heating and cooling for low-income families; Cuts to Meals on Wheels for older Americans; Cuts to nurse training; Cuts to family caregivers; Cuts to family planning services—and the list goes on.
My sincere hope is that President Trump’s budget is dead on arrival. The budget is cynical, vindictive, and it would cause real harm to millions of American families. Mr. Secretary, I look forward to finding out whether you support these reckless cuts. I truly hope not.
Additionally—I have read your testimony, and I know that you do not have all the numbers yet—I would ask the Chairman if we could have the Secretary return to testify when we know the full extent of the budget in May.
Thank you, and I look forward to the discussion.