May 19, 2022

Smith, Palmer Call Out Health Secretary Becerra for Misleading American People About Radical “Anti-Racism” Rule And Its Effect on Patient Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a letter sent to President Biden’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, House Budget Committee Republican Leader Jason Smith (MO-08) and House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (AL-06), slammed the Biden Administration’s attempt to impose its so-called “anti-racism” agenda on doctors’ offices. Under a new Biden Administration regulation, doctors would be reimbursed with federal tax dollars for adopting “anti-racism” plans that define race as “a political and social construct, not a physiological one.” Smith and Palmer also called out Secretary Becerra over his recent Congressional testimony, where he repeatedly denied such rules existed despite evidence that showed these rules are already in effect and would be implemented within the next two years.

“The Biden Administration has decided to force doctors to implement a radical political ideology under the guise of improving patient care. The fact of the matter is that under this new rule, doctors will be forced to incorporate a political agenda into their practices that not only dismisses medical facts, but seeks to indoctrinate physicians. It speaks volumes that instead of defending this rule in public testimony, Secretary Becerra instead chose to deny its existence and obfuscate the truth. When it comes to health care, we need doctors focused on caring for patients, not on woke activism,” said House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith.

"The Biden Administration’s policies have already created a crisis of confidence among Americans. Now, they are trying to implement a rule that could result in racial discrimination. This rule will further undermine patient confidence in our health care system by incentivizing a form of discrimination that gives preferential treatment based on misguided racial guidelines. Secretary Becerra owes the American people answers considering he has openly denied this plan existed even though his agency issued the rule last year,” said House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Palmer.

The Smith-Palmer letter outlines various opportunities given to the Biden Administration to come clean about its intent and the efforts underway by the Administration to turn physician offices into another political arena. Specifically, the letter highlights how earlier this year, House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith and members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a separate letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing concerns about the deeply negative impact this so-called “anti-racism” measure would have on patient care.

Smith and Palmer note that the proposal, included in a final rule published last year by HHS, defines race as a “political and social construct, not a physiological one,” and that among the many measures that impact physician reimbursement, this new measure would have a higher rating than the one given for crafting personalized mental health plans for patients, making timely cancer diagnoses, and managing a patient’s medication so that they do not die on the surgical table during invasive surgery.

The Smith-Palmer letter goes on to highlight how, at an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing last month, House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Palmer asked Secretary Becerra about the Biden Administration’s “anti-racism” plan under this rule, to which Secretary Becerra claimed HHS “does not have a policy as described” and that “much of this is driven by mis- and disinformation.” This was followed just one day later by House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith asking Secretary Becerra about the “anti-racism” measure at a Ways and Means Committee hearing, to which Secretary Becerra once again denied its existence, prompting Smith to enter the rule into the public record.

“Based on your on-the-record denials of this measure’s existence, we are forced to conclude that you are either unaware of your own department’s activity or intentionally obfuscating about this activity to hide a radical political agenda from the American people. Either action on your part is completely unacceptable,” wrote Smith and Palmer.

The Congressmen also note that the Biden Administration’s rule may be in violation of federal law, citing a federal civil rights lawsuit filed earlier this month by two doctors, and joined by eight states including Smith and Palmer’s home states of Missouri and Alabama. The suit alleges the Biden Administration’s rule violates the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.

In the letter, Smith and Palmer request a formal response from HHS within fourteen days.

Read the full letter here.