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Remarks by HHS Secretary Becerra at the HHS FY 2024 Budget Press Conference

On Thursday, March 9, 2023, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra joined leaders from across HHS to deliver remarks at a press conference focused on the HHS budget for FY 2024. The Budget in Brief can be read on

Below are Secretary Becerra’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.

I’m honored to be part of an incredible team of leaders at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their commitment to better the health of the American people is unmatched.

HHS’ FY24 budget reflects our values as a nation and our ambitions to build a healthier America. And it details the steps we will take to realize that vision.

Under President Biden’s leadership, and through his investments, we are moving health care in this country from an illness-care system to a wellness-care system.

An illness-care system leaves our most vulnerable families behind. A wellness-care system invests in providing the full spectrum of health care to America, whether in our home, our local schools or our community centers. 

An illness-care system allows the price of prescription drugs to skyrocket and costs Americans more money than almost anywhere in the world.

A wellness-care system would start by prescribing carrots, apples, asparagus and other fruits & vegetables – and, of course, when necessary, would prescribe prescription medication that will help.

An illness care system requires you to get a referral by your family care physician to a specialist to get mental health support.

A wellness care system provides you with mental health care support the moment you walk through the door of your family physician’s office.

An illness-care system forces hard-working Americans to deplete their life savings to get the care and support they need.

A wellness-care system advances and invests in long-term care, and in-home care, where our older adults and Americans with disabilities can thrive in their communities. 

An illness care system puts too many personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians.

A wellness-care system allows everyone, especially women with the support of their medical providers, to decide on their own about what is best for them. 
HHS’s budget proposes $144.0 billion in discretionary and $1.7 trillion in mandatory proposed budget authority for FY 2024.  

This is what it means to invest in wellness care;

COVID/Preparedness: More than $30 billion investment to make sure America is better prepared for the next public health crisis.

That includes a billion dollars for our nation’s strategic national stockpile.

Mental and Behavioral Health (Bipartisan Safer Communities Act): $4 billion more in SAMHSA to meet behavioral health needs, including funds to increase access to crisis services and grow the behavioral health workforce, as well as address substance use disorders, which is killing far too many of our family members.

Through this budget we are also gearing up to handle more than six million additional contacts from people who are experiencing a mental health crisis through 988 – the three-digit Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Coverage: From the moment he took office, President Biden has prioritized the health and well-being of all Americans. He promised lower costs for more people with better benefits.

This budget would cover two million adults still left out of Medicaid by the states and extend tax credits that make health care more affordable for millions of Americans.

It would also ensure that postpartum Medicaid coverage is here to stay.

The President’s budget also caps the price of insulin at $35 for EVERYONE and negotiates a fair price for more prescription drugs. 

And this budget will strengthen Medicare for the next generation.

Care: $600 billion in childcare and preschool programs and $150 billion to strengthen Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS)

There are more than 53 million caregivers in the United States, and together they provide for the $470 billion in unpaid care each year. When we don’t provide for caregivers, it has a negative impact on their physical and mental health. It also undermines their economic security – to the tune of $600 billion in lost income. This budget gives them the support they deserve AND funds the recruitment of 1.3 million additional homecare workers needed to meet the demand.

There is so much in the President’s budget, but let me highlight just a few more things:

ARPA-H: $2.5 billion (an addition $1 billion over last year).

Cancer/Moonshot/Hep-C: This budget funds the Cancer Moonshot – and specifically proposes funding for a bold five-year program to put the nation on course to eliminate hepatitis C in the United States by ensuring cure is accessible to everyone. Tens of thousands of lives will be saved through this program, and we’ll save tens of billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on expensive medical interventions for those left untreated. 

Title X - $512 million to the Title X family planning program.

Cybersecurity - $188 million for cybersecurity initiatives ($88 million above last year)

Fraud & Abuse New investment in Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control will save taxpayers $5 billion over the next 10 years.

Hunger Nutrition and Health: $137 million in HHS to address specific commitments made as part of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and the corresponding National Strategy

FQHCs - $7.1 billion for Health Centers, which includes $5.2 billion in proposed mandatory resources, an increase of $1.3 billion above FY 2023 enacted. 

IHS; The budget honors our responsibilities to Indian Country with more than $2 billion in new resources in 2024.

Last year, for the first time, the Indian Health Service was given advanced appropriations – providing the protection that other federal health providers have from budgetary uncertainty. We want to build on that progress this year.

As the President has said, it’s time to “finish the job.”

By investing fully in the health and well-being of all Americans.

By doing everything in our power to ensure that all Americans have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can get the care and support they need.

By bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and making health care more affordable.

By putting energy and resources behind the innovations that will transform our nation’s health in the future.

By transforming our nation from one focused on illness-care to one focused on wellness-care.

By building a country where health and wellness are within reach for all Americans — no matter their race, religion, color, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, locality, or age.

We can’t reduce the health and well-being of Americans to a line on a spreadsheet.

And it should be clear from this budget that the Biden Administration understands that.

This budget is reflection of our values as a nation and our ambitions to build a healthier America.

It is what Americans expect and deserve.

Thank you.

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Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
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