Sessions demands Sebelius testify before Budget panel

Lauren Schneiderman

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked his Democratic counterpart, Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), to request that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tesify before the committee.

“The Senate Budget Committee is long overdue for a hearing with the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Murrray Monday. “Secretary Sebelius has never once testified before the Budget Committee on either the president’s budget or the president’s healthcare law.”

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Sessions said that despite the fact that healthcare spending is nearly one-third of the federal budget, Sebelius has not testified before the committee.

“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs — which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending — are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term,” Sessions wrote. “It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius.”

Sessions said Murray should schedule that hearing before the Senate has a two-week recess in mid-April.

Medicare and Medicaid are large contributors to healthcare costs in the federal budget.

Sessions has criticized the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, saying mandates under the law harm the economy and discourage employers from making new hires. He and most other Republicans have called for a full repeal of the law, which is also a healthcare expense in Obama's budget.