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  • Washington Highlights

    HHS Secretary Becerra Testifies on FY 2025 Budget Request


    Sinead Hunt, Legislative Analyst
    For Media Inquiries

    Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra testified April 17 before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee regarding President Joe Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2025 HHS budget request (PDF). In his testimony, Becerra highlighted actions intended by the Biden administration to lower the price of prescription drugs, maintain and expand health care coverage, and ensure access to behavioral health care. 

    In a key exchange, full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) expressed concerns regarding hospitals’ noncompliance with the federal hospital price transparency regulations, noting, “I think it’s unacceptable that some hospitals continue to make it difficult for consumers to access price information.” Becerra responded that his department continues to work with hospitals to ensure full compliance with price transparency requirements and they are “prepared to take enforcement action” to achieve this goal.  

    In another key exchange, Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) inquired about the administration’s actions to stem consolidation and “preserve independent practice as an option for physicians and patients.” Becerra emphasized his willingness to work with Burgess to fix the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and provide financial stability for physicians, noting that Congress must act to waive budget neutrality requirements. Burgess responded, “A pro tip. Site neutrality can replace budget neutrality. We can afford this — we have the dollars within the system.” The AAMC previously opposed so-called site-neutral payment policies in a letter to committee leadership, citing the greater social and clinical complexity of patients treated at hospital outpatient departments [refer to Washington Highlights, May 26, 2023].

    Also of note, several subcommittee members asked Becerra about the administration’s implementation of the No Surprise Act (P.L. 116-260), citing concerns with the independent resolution process.