WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hinton native Sylvia Mathews Burwell was praised and quizzed by members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. President Barack Obama has nominated Burwell to be the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) had an extended discussion with Burwell about the cost of Medicare. Burwell did not come out in support of a proposal to charge wealthier Americans through means testing instead she said proposed reforms to Medicare need to be considered as a package.
“When one gets to the specifics of what you are going to do to resolve that issue, I think it actually takes a combination of things to do that,” Burwell told Portman. “I think it takes things, as you’re discussing, that are on the beneficiary side. I think it takes things that are on the provider side.”
Portman has cited before the President’s budget that says the wealthier could pay more for doctors’ visits and prescription drugs under Medicare. Burwell said all things are on the table when it comes to Medicare reform and revenue must be part of the conversation. But she was not specific on what might be done.
“When one is looking or talking about a package I think one needs to see what is in the package. What is it we are paying for and what are the offsets you use,” Burwell said.
The Senate Finance Committee will take a vote on Burwell’s nomination and then send it to the full Senate for consideration. A confirmation vote is expected before Memorial Day.