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House Committees Explore the President’s FY 2013 Budget

March 2, 2012—Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius testified at a pair of hearings held by the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees which examined President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget. Both hearings discussed health care spending and reductions proposed by the president to programs such as Medicare indirect graduate medical education (IME), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME).

Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) opened the Feb. 28 hearing stating he was disappointed with the president’s budget, and that it “lacks any guidance whatsoever about one of the greatest challenges facing the federal government and by extension American taxpayers – the long-term solvency of Medicare,” and “[w]ith more than 10,000 Baby Boomers becoming eligible for benefits each day, it is critical…to ensure current and future beneficiaries have continued and uninterrupted access to much-needed care.” Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich) disagreed the budget affects health care access, saying, “it is clear that health reform and this budget work to preserve and expand benefits, improve access to care, invest in cutting edge research, and lower the cost curve to ensure all Americans can afford to stay well and see the doctor of their choice.”

Secretary Sebelius testified that the HHS budget “invests in health care, disease, prevention, social services, and scientific research.” When asked by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) how the administration expects children’s hospitals to continue to train doctors with a 67 percent cut to the CHGME program, the secretary responded that in a better budget environment, all graduate medical education would be funded, but that HHS will continue to monitor issues affecting access to care.

At the March 1 Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, Chair Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) opened by characterizing  several programs in the budget that receive mandatory funding from the Affordable Care Act as removing authority from the legislative branch. He said, “Beyond the absence of Congressional authority over these funds, I am deeply troubled by the lack of accountability and transparency practiced by the department.”

Other members, such as Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), commended HHS’s current investment in research and the administration’s announcement of an additional $80 million for Alzheimer’s research for FY 13 [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 10], but said this number should be “drastically higher.” The congressman continued that if there is one thing Congress should single out and spare from budget cuts, it is the NIH budget. He said, “it just has to go up and up and up because the National Institutes of Health are really the National Institutes of Hope.”

Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Lois Capps (D- Calif.) all expressed concern over physician workforce shortages given the nation’s growing demand for health care services and the administration’s proposal to cut funding for the CHGME program [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 17]. Rep. Engel expressed concern about the administration’s proposal to cut by 10 percent Medicare IME payments and urged the secretary to reconsider cuts to teaching hospitals that train the nation’s future physicians [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 17].  Rep. Pallone also said the CHGME proposal will further hinder pediatric specialty shortages and that the president’s $5 million request for the previously unfunded Title VII pediatric specialty loan repayment program will not compensate fully for the cuts.


Alexandra Khalife
Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-828-0418

Len Marquez
Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-862-6281


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806