Testimony from Kathleen Sebelius on Oral Testimony on FY 2014 Budget before Committee on Ways & Means
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Chairman Camp, Ranking Member Levin, Members of the Committee:
In his State of the Union, President Obama laid out values that are the backbone of his 2015 budget: opportunity for all, economic growth, and security: the notion that, if you work hard and take responsibility, you should have the opportunity to succeed in America.
This budget will allow our Department to move this mission forward.
Early Childhood Education
Every child deserves the opportunity for a healthy start, and a high-quality learning environment. And, as the President has said, “research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.”
The science has demonstrated that the return on these investments is at least 7/1, far exceeding the stock market. The fact of the matter is, these investments are good for our kids, good for our economy and good for a family’s economic security. In every state, the cost of child care for two kids now exceeds the median annual rent.
Our budget puts a special focus on Birth-To-Kindergarten.
It brings our total investment in the Child Care & Development Fund to $6.1 billion, so more of our children have access to quality care.
We also propose to expand Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships for more of our children. This would allow us to build upon the progress we’re making in reforming Head Start. And if you fund the President’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, we could provide 100,000 children with access to high-quality early education.
Our global competitors have figured out that investing in early education makes good economic sense. China plans to increase pre-school enrollment 50 percent by 2020. And in Japan, virtually every 4-year-old attends pre-school. So if we want our kids to compete for the jobs of the future, these investments matter.
This budget would also extend and expand voluntary home visitation – so that we can empower our children’s first and best teachers: their parents.
These investments won’t add a dime to the deficit. One of the ways we pay for them is through an increase to the tobacco tax – which we know discourages kids from smoking. Every day, more than 3,000 children try their first cigarette - and nearly 1,000 become daily smokers – so these efforts are imperative. These investments have broad bi-partisan support from governors, from business, military and law enforcement leaders, from parents and health providers, and can make a huge difference in our nation’s prosperity.
Access to Care
Of course, no child can learn with a toothache that his or her family cannot afford to have treated. No family can save for college when they are drowning in medical bills.
This budget protects the progress we are making in helping more Americans attain the opportunity of affordable health coverage.Yesterday we announced that 4.2 million people signed up through the end of February. And we expect this number to rise by the March 31st deadline, as more Americans learn how affordable Marketplace coverage can be.
One of our best tools for expanding access to Health Care are Community Health Centers – and this budget invests to help them serve 31 million Americans at new and existing sites.
Growth & Security
This budget protects our seniors by increasing investments for Elder Justice to protect them from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
It protects consumers with additional resources to help the FDA oversee the safety of our food supplies and pharmaceutical resources. It would also expand efforts to protect hospital patients from healthcare-associated infections.
And because opportunity, growth, and security mean very little when a family is facing unemployment, this budget is a job creator.
It invests in industries that drive our economy: innovation, science, and discovery. These investments fuel entrepreneurship and economic growth, while saving lives—NIH-funded BRAIN initiative, vaccine development, and other innovative projects.
Through the Healthcare Workforce Initiative, the budget would expand the National Health Service Corps, enabling us to focus training dollars on the primary care workforce, by expanding residency training opportunities.
And for all of these proposed investments, the budget makes tough, fiscally responsible choices. It will contribute a net $369 billion toward deficit reduction over the next decade.
By incentivizing high-quality, efficient care, and by continuing to reduce health care cost growth, it will strengthen Medicare and Medicaid with $415 billion in net savings over 10 years.
We will also produce savings for taxpayers by continuing to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse. Every dollar we invest in the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control initiative for example, returns $8.10 in money we recover, which last year was a record-breaking $4.3 billion.
In many ways, this budget reflects the notion from the Book of Matthew that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
A budget is more than a ledger; it’s a statement of our mission, our intentions, and our priorities. And this budget does just that by expanding opportunity, encouraging growth, and protecting both our families’ economic security, and our nation’s health security.