February 04,2015

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Wyden Calls Health and Human Services Programs Key to Supporting American Families

Ranking Democrat Cites Modernizing Medicare, CHIP Reauthorization, Child Welfare as Critically Important to Strengthening the Safety Net and Promoting Economic Mobility

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., at a hearing with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to discuss the fiscal year 2016 budget, said Congress must continue its legacy of building and improving health programs that keep millions of Americans financially secure and healthy.

“America’s health programs are lifelines for countless Americans which save millions of families from choosing between paying for a loved one’s health care and sending their kids to college,” Wyden said.  “As Congress continues working to improve the health care system, we must focus on making high-quality health care affordable and accessible and ensuring vulnerable Americans don’t fall through the cracks.”

Wyden said Medicare must be improved to address the health challenges facing this era’s seniors, primarily chronic diseases which are complex and costly to treat. Wyden called on Secretary Burwell to focus on the issue and help make chronic care reform a reality. He also praised the president’s budget for including the Precision Medicine Initiative, which would drive research on how to make health treatments more effective for individual patients. Wyden fought to include a similar test program in the Affordable Care Act.

Wyden praised the president’s proposal for including four years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a vital program that provides health insurance to more than 10 million kids in America, including more than 75,000 in Oregon.

“Renewing CHIP is a no-brainer. A child who starts life with quality health insurance has a much better shot at a successful, middle-class life than a kid who doesn’t. Families and state agencies across the country are waiting for Congress to act.”

Wyden also noted the progress being made in Congress and in the president’s budget to improve child welfare, including implementing the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which was enacted last year.

Wyden’s full opening statement is available here. Video is available here.