Week ahead: Azar defends HHS budget

Week ahead: Azar defends HHS budget
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New Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar will make the rounds in the coming week on Capitol Hill to defend the Trump administration's proposed budget. 

Azar will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and House Ways and Means Committee, marking the first time he will testify before Congress after being sworn in last month. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE will unveil his fiscal 2019 budget on Monday.

Public health advocates are expecting an HHS budget proposal similar to last year, which recommended an 18 percent cut to the agency, with steep cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 


Like his predecessor, former HHS Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceThe global economy has become more likely to fail Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 'I alone can fix it,' Trump said, but has he? MORE, Azar will likely face tough questions from both parties about the president's budget blueprint.

Lawmakers dismissed Trump's calls for deep cuts and in fact provided the NIH, a bipartisan favorite, with more funding.

The two-year budget deal Trump signed Friday morning, ending a brief government shutdown, included a $2 billion boost for the NIH.

Still, the proposal will give an indication of the administration's priorities for health care.

Another thing to watch for in the budget proposal is the administration's recommendations for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, all programs Trump promised not to cut during his presidential campaign. 

Another key focus will be drug prices.

The Trump administration on Friday laid out its most in-depth proposal to fight high drug prices, which will be included in Monday's budget proposal.

Friday's 28-page proposal includes a number of measures to make drugs more affordable, including a cap on out-of-pocket spending for Medicare prescription drug enrollees, allowing up to five states to join together to negotiate drug prices for Medicaid and cutting Medicare payments to discourage doctors from prescribing higher-priced drugs.

Both the House and Senate will be in session in the coming week, with a number of health care-related hearings on the docket.

On Tuesday, the Senate Health Committee holds a hearing on reauthorizing FDA animal drug user fees.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on "the impact of health care consolidation."

A House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security holds a hearing on sanctuary cities and the opioid epidemic on Thursday. 

Hearings and events 

President Trump releases his budget proposal Monday

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 430 on "Improving Animal Health: Reauthorization of FDA Animal Drug User Fees."

A House Energy and Commerce subpanel holds a hearing on "Examining the Impact of Health Care Consolidation" Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2322.

Azar testifies before the Ways & Means Committee Wednesday at 10 a.m. in 1100 Longworth on the budget proposal. 

Azar will also testify on the budget Thursday at 9 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office building, room 215.

Azar will wrap up his budget tour Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office building, room 2123.

A House Judiciary Committee subpanel holds a hearing on "The Effect of Sanctuary City Policies on the Ability to Combat the Opioid Epidemic" on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2141.


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