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Budget Press Conference

February 14, 2011
Washington, DC

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good morning, and thank you for joining us as we release our Department’s 2012 budget. Having all our senior leaders here today is a good reminder that our Department’s greatest resource is our people – the brilliant scientists, doctors, nurses, social workers and other dedicated professionals who shape our department’s policies and work so hard every day to deliver vital services to families around the country.

The budget we are announcing today will help America win the future by giving families and business owners more freedom from rising health costs and insurance abuses; by keeping America at the cutting edge of new cures and treatments; by ensuring that our children are as prepared as any in the world when they start school; and by slashing waste and fraud from Medicare to strengthen it for seniors today and tomorrow.

It will move us one step closer to the American ideal of a society in which every man, woman, and child has the chance to reach his and her full potential and make a meaningful contribution to family, community and country.

At the same time, this budget recognizes that we can’t build lasting prosperity on a mountain of debt. Years of deficits have put us in a position where we need to make tough choices. We can’t invest for the future unless we also live within our means.

So in developing this budget, we looked closely at every program in our department. When we found waste, we cut it. When programs weren’t working well enough, we redesigned them to put a new focus on results. In some cases, we cut programs that we would not have cut in better fiscal times.

You can visit our website to read the budget in its entirety. But for now, I want to share some brief highlights and then take some of your questions.

Over the last 10 ½ months, we’ve worked around the clock with our partners in Congress and states to deliver the promise of the Affordable Care Act to the American people. Thanks to the law, children can no longer be denied coverage because of their pre-existing health conditions, families have the protection of a new Patient’s Bill of Rights, businesses are getting relief from soaring health costs, and seniors have lower cost access to prescription drugs and preventive care.

This budget builds on this progress by supporting innovative new models of care that will improve patient safety and quality while reducing the burden of rising health costs on families, businesses, cities and states.

And it makes new investments in our health care workforce and community health centers to make quality, affordable care available to millions more Americans and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country.

Over the past half century, America’s economy has led the world because we led the world in innovation. To make sure that doesn’t change, our budget increases funding for the National Institutes of Health.

New frontiers of research like cell-based therapies and genomics have the promise to unlock revolutionary treatments and cures for diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to cancer to autism.

Our budget will allow the world’s leading scientists pursue these discoveries while keeping America at the forefront of biomedical research.

And because we know there’s nothing more important to our future than the healthy development of our children, our budget includes significant increases in funding for child care and Head Start. Science shows that success in school is significantly enhanced by high quality early learning opportunities, which makes this one of the wisest investments we can make.

Our budget also aims to raise the bar on quality, supporting key reforms to transform the nation’s child care system into one that fosters both healthy development and gets children ready for school. And it proposes a new Early Learning Challenge Fund: a partnership with the Department of Education that will promote State innovation in early education.

These investments are a critical part of the President’s education agenda that will help give every child the chance to reach his or her full academic potential and ensure that American workers remain the best in the world.

At a time when so many Americans are making every dollar count, we need to do the same. That’s why our budget provides new support for President Obama’s unprecedented push to stamp out waste, fraud, and abuse in our health care system – an effort that more than pays for itself, returning a record $4 billion to taxpayers in 2010 alone.

For example, our budget will allow us to bring the very successful Strike Force model to up to 20 cities across the country. Altogether, we estimate that this investment will yield $10.3 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings over ten years, a return of about $1.50 for every dollar spent.

We have made eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse a priority across our entire Department. But we know that isn’t enough.

So over the last few months, we’ve gone through our Department’s budget, program by program, to find additional savings and opportunities where we can make our resources go further.

For example, in 2009, Congress created a grant program to help 13 states expand health coverage. Given the work we’re now doing under the health law to expand access to affordable care, we’ve decided to cut this program so we don’t duplicate our efforts.

Another example is CDC funding to help states reduce chronic disease. Previously, this funding was split between different diseases. So you’d get one grant for heart disease, another grant for diabetes, and so on. That didn’t make sense since a lot of these conditions have the same risk factors like smoking and obesity. Now, states will get one comprehensive grant that will allow them the flexibility to address chronic disease more effectively.

The budget we’re releasing makes tough choices and smart, targeted investments today so that we can have a stronger, healthier, more competitive America tomorrow. That’s what it will take to win the future, and that’s what we’re determined to do.