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GAO Takes Another Stab at Spurned HHS Budget Cuts GAO Takes Another Stab at Spurned HHS Budget Cuts

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Health Care / HEALTH CARE

GAO Takes Another Stab at Spurned HHS Budget Cuts

photo of Margot Sanger-Katz
May 9, 2012

The Government Accountability Office took another stab at some spurned Department of Health and Human Services budget savings ideas on Wednesday in testimony at a House subcommittee hearing.

The suggestions included improving efficiencies in Medicaid payments processing, scaling back a Medicare Advantage bonus program, and restricting program payments to evidence-based treatments.

That testimony may have come as a disappointment to Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee, who opened the hearing by describing the giant agency as rife with waste, focusing on community public health grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were used to put up signs highlighting recreational destinations and set up municipal bike-share programs.

 

The Institute of Medicine has recommended that public health agencies work with communities to make exercise more appealing, but Stearns clearly disapproves.

"At an agency as large as HHS, opportunities are ripe for wasteful and duplicative spending. It is clear HHS has a long way to go to streamline its many multi-billion dollar programs and restore trust in its management of our tax dollars," his prepared statement said.

But the testimony did highlight the Medicare Advantage bonus program, with the GAO recently critiqued as an inappropriate use of pilot program funds to paper over permanent budget cuts. The department has defended the program.

The budget recently passed by the House includes substantial cuts to the department.

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