Statement Of Sen. Alexander - Mike Leavitt Nomination Hearing To Be U.S. Secretary of Health And Human Services

Posted on January 18, 2005

Mr. Chairman, I am proud to be here today to voice my support for Governor Mike Leavitt's nomination to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. I was impressed by Governor Leavitt's work while he was governor. I have enjoyed working with him as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and I look forward to working with him as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Governor Leavitt's work in Utah with Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program gives him valuable experience to draw upon as our next Secretary. My own state of Tennessee is currently struggling to reform our Medicaid program, which we call TennCare, as I know many states are struggling with rising healthcare costs in their Medicaid programs. I look forward to hearing Governor Leavitt's and the Administration's thoughts about Medicaid reform. I hope we can give the states the flexibility they need to best serve their populations. I am also very interested in early education and childcare issues. The federal government spends $18 to $21 billion each year on 69 different programs that dedicate part of their budgets towards early education and care programs that serve children under age 5. Six of the 69 federal programs that provide early care and education services to children under age 5 are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Three of these programs, Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the childcare funds within Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, account for $15 billion of the $18 to $21 billion spent annually on early education and childcare. I look forward to working with Governor Leavitt to make sure we are spending federal dollars for children age 0 to 5 as well as possible. I also look forward to exploring how these programs work in conjunction with other programs administered throughout the federal government. I look forward to working with the President and his new Secretary on many of these issues this year. Governor Leavitt will make an outstanding Secretary of Health and Humans Services, and I hope we can quickly confirm him in the Senate.