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Committee Challenges HHS Priorities, Discusses ObamaCare Flaws

Today, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), held a hearing on the policies and priorities of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius served as the hearing witness, offering testimony and answering member questions about HHS programs within the committee’s jurisdiction, as well as the administration’s implementation of the recent health care law.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Kline described the fiscal challenges facing the nation and the president’s irresponsible budget proposal. "If we adopt the president’s plan, the Congressional Budget Office reports the federal government will spend $46.2 trillion, impose $1.5 trillion in new taxes, and add roughly $9 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. This is unacceptable.” Chairman Kline continued, "If we fail to promote responsible reforms and make tough choices, our nation will no longer be able to provide assistance to those who need it most.

Highlights from today’s hearing include –

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) on the need for accountability in federal spending:


“It seems the federal government doesn’t often care about costs until our backs are against the wall. And we ought to be caring about costs every day and every program. There should be accountability in every program, every day.”

Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) on the difficult choices ObamaCare forces on employers:


“Health care decisions, I believe, Madam Secretary, shouldn't be made here in Washington D.C. They should be made between patients and their families and their doctors. Not by insurance companies. Not by the federal government." 

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) requests the agency comply with a court order for information:


"I’d like to know, why NIOSH [National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety] has not complied with these orders of two federal judges, and I would also like to know what assurances you can give me that the data will be released as required by the courts. In other words, basically, do you want NIOSH to comply?"

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (R-TN) on the need for responsible reforms to Medicare:



“I wanted to share a few concerns that have been brought forth to us in the past few months. One of great concern is that the CBO has estimated that the program [Medicare] will be bankrupt in nine years if left unchanged. So when we get challenged that our attempts to make changes to this program to secure it and protect it for future generations, sometimes I take issue with that.”

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) on the need to address the cost of defensive medicine:


“With regards to medical malpractice, of course you understand, at least for many Americans - many that I represent - it’s not the premium that doctors pay that is the concern. It is the defensive medicine costs.” 

Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) address mistatements regarding the Republican budget:


“You stated that Congressman Ryan’s plan puts seniors on the open market. Are you aware that it's designed after the same type of health care plan that members of Congress currently have?”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) discusses the need for medical malpractice reform:


“I found it instructive that this administration has not proposed any medical malpractice reform. So perhaps we can take this opportunity and identify what medical malpractice reform initiatives you would support.”

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), on the impact ObamaCare's tax on certain medical devices will have on small business health care providers:


“I have specifically heard from my constituents about the 2.3 percent excise tax on manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices. How can you justify this tax, especially for small business home care providers who work in rural areas?”

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) discusses health care and jobs:


“Would you not agree then, that when the government gets in the business of insurance that what they are putting at risk are taxpayer dollars and assessments, as opposed to private capital that is spread globally?”

To read testimony and view other documents and video from today’s hearing, visit