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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Secretary Becerra, congressman spar over HHS ‘anti-racism’ policy

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra denied the existence of racial-preference weights in the HHS, calling reports of his own physician fee schedule “misinformation.”

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Wednesday, Becerra denied the HHS has a policy offering financial incentives to doctors to implement an “anti-racism” plan.

“You are secretary of CMS. Is there a physician fee schedule that came out that has any content of weighted measures for anti-racism?” Rep. Gary Palmer asked.

“There is a fee schedule that takes into account that we have great disparity in this country in accessing health care and moving towards a system that will make sure anyone has equal access to the care that they are entitled to,” Becerra responded, pushing back on Palmer’s assessment.

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In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a rule providing more funds if doctors offered an “anti-racism” plan. The plan requires a “clinic-wide review” of the doctors’ “commitment to anti-racism” based on a definition of race as “a political and social construct, not a physiological one.”

“And, in that fee schedule, does it put separate weights for various aspects of care based on one’s race?” Palmer pressed Becerra Monday.

“Based solely on one’s race?” Becerra asked. “No.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is interviewed by the Associated Pres March 17, 2022, in Washington. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is interviewed by the Associated Pres March 17, 2022, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Race-based incentives were included in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System of the December 2021 HHS policy.

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“The plan should include a clinic-wide review of existing tools and policies, such as value statements or clinical practice guidelines,” according to the HHS memo, “to ensure that they include and are aligned with a commitment to anti-racism and an understanding of race as a political and social construct, not a physiological one.”

Becerra attributed the congressman’s claims of race-based incentives in health care to “disinformation” and “misinformation.”

HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra testified before the House Committee on Education and Labor.

HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra testified before the House Committee on Education and Labor.
(Screenshot/House Education and Labor Committee)

Political advocacy group Do No Harm blasted the secretary’s denial in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“It is highly alarming that Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra denied the existence of the HHS rule that since 2021 provides higher compensation for doctors if they promulgate an ‘anti-racism’ plan,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Do No Harm’s chairman, said.

Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at timothy.nerozzi@fox.com

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