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tv   HHS Secretary Speaks at Health Action Conference  CSPAN  January 29, 2022 10:45pm-11:02pm EST

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billionaires gobbled the world. and justice stephen breyer's retirement, key cases to watch and public confidence in the high court. washington journal 7:00 eastern sunday morning on c-span or c-span now, our new mobile app and join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text, and tweets -- texts and tweets. >> washington unfiltered. c-span in your pocket. download c-span now today. >> health & human services secretary xavier becerra on steps the biden administration is taking to face health care challenges that were exposed by the covid-19 pandemic. he speaks at a conference posted by families usa. >> secretary becerra, we are
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thrilled to have you beside us. indulge me to say more, you have been a longtime friend and champion of so many of our partners. we have had a privilege of working with you as a member of congress, as attorney general of california, to pass the affordable care act. more than a decade ago, i remember several trips to california to meet with you or your senior staff. and you were heroes for so many of us. in california, you used the power as attorney general to take on health care industry cases, notably price gouging by the sutter health monopoly. and as secretary now, you are so busy already fighting hard to leverage the power of the department to protect this. a couple days ago, you announced an important enter agency effort and millions of dollars to support reproductive rights as we watch roe v. wade.
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the unfairness of health care monopolies is true today as it was then. secretary, how are you, how was your return to the nation's capital and how is it going? secretary becerra: if i could get that kind of introduction everywhere i went, i would be good every day. today's my birthday, so i think you decided to be especially nice. it is my gift to be with all the folks at families usa again. you and everybody on your team,
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thank you for everything you do. and to nikki for her story and great -- and grit and guts. thank you. we are going to mixer we implement it right. we are going to get these things done. and thanks for being the army we need to make it happen. >> you better believe it. i have to wish you the happiest of birthdays. happy birthday. when you think back on this last year, what are you most route of? secretary becerra: how we are so resilient does a country. certainly our health care workers, all those so-called essential workers that weren't being treated well because they were low-paid. to every american who took the advice of the experts and scientists and believed these vaccines work, to everyone who has been doing all the things to take all the precautions. we are a country that seems to be somewhat divided, but with
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250 million americans, getting a dose of the vaccine, more than 210 million getting two doses and millions more getting the poster -- the booster, we are coming together. and i feel good about being part of the team helping to get it done. >> absolutely. and millions of lives will be saved in our work together. the other side of that coin is, as difficult a lesson as we have learned in the covid pandemic, one is the inequity in our families. we were both first-generation, president biden points out the need of improved health equity, justice and improved representation. the theme of this health conference is health and justice -- health justice now. what do you see as most important in the year ahead for
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health justice and equality? secretary becerra: in a way we have identified, we finally have been able to uncover where some of those gaps in our public health system live. no one can deny that our health system was to porous. -- was too porous. covid exposed that. it is on us now to go out there and close those gaps. and i came into office less than a year ago, i got reports that a number of americans who were receiving vaccine, white americans at that point in may, two out of three white americans had at least one shot of the vaccines. african-americans, just a little over half, 54%. latino americans, 55%. we got to work closing those gaps and as of the end of december, the latest numbers we got, 83% of white americans
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received at least one shot, 82% of african-americans now have received at least one shot and latinos, 84% have received one shot. we went out and hustled. it was no accident. that is the kind of stuff we need to do because we can see where the gaps are and it is on us to make sure we reach out to everyone where they are. >> in those numbers, we moved from stark inequities to 82% of -- 83% of white americans, 82% of african-americans and 84% of latinos. we take pride in that outcome as well. another issue near and dear to our hearts, you are no stranger to take on health care pricing abuses, and the lack of competition in health care markets, as in a landmark suit against sutter.
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now, your leading implementation of the no surprises act. can you talk about where you see the greatest need for additional policy change to rein in health care costs, improve the value and create greater competition across the health care sector? secretary becerra: i don't think there is any question, drug pricing, what we pay in america to get access to medicines which, in some cases, cost less abroad than they do here at home , even though they may be invented or manufactured in this country. without a doubt, because it takes a big bite out everyone's pocketbook, we should not have to pay more than anyone else in the world, especially when they are drugs that we created here. we have to recognize, while we can make this happen, it doesn't happen overnight. our system is a patchwork on health care and it makes it difficult to come out with a
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very streamlined approach. but without a doubt, there is no reason why we should be paying thousands of dollars for drugs that other countries are paying a fraction to get. >> beautifully said. every day we let pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money by charging outrageous prices is another day that we don't get the innovations that we want. we are rewarding smart lawyers, not smart new drugs. we have to change that 100 percent. another issue that is a big deal for all of us is maternal and child health. so many of your department -- so any parts of your department have different authorities. what can we do to improve maternal outcomes and the well-being of children in our nation? secretary becerra: americans should know that we talk talk but don't walk the talk when it
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comes to our mental health. it is incredible to me that the wealthiest country in the world with the most sophisticated health care anywhere, that we have some of the worst maternal more ability -- worst maternal morbidity outcomes. not just in the industrial world, in many developing countries, we rate lower than so many countries in the world when it comes to the outcomes for women and babies when it comes to birth. it is incredible. and i say this not just as someone who has the opportunity to lead hhs, i say this as the spouse of a maternal medicine expert who has been practicing for over, i think, 30 years, 20 something years. i should not add more years to her age. and she has been an expert in this and has talked about this for the longest time, how we could not only save babies and safe moms, but have them
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healthier, both. that is why at hhs, we are investing millions of dollars to tackle this maternal morbidity crisis we face. it hits african-american communities and native american communities the hardest. we are trying to make sure every state offers a woman health care postpartum and we hope more states will take us up on that. >> i think most americans don't realize that we don't have 12 months of maternity care for a mom after she has delivered. it is such a commonsense, important policy and a great example of a reform right away. it is good to know at home that you have an expert that is going to hold your feet to the fire on this and make sure we get this done. let me give you a final question. you have truly an army of health
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advocates ready to do battle with you for your agenda. what can all of us joining you today do to help drive your agenda and improve the health quality of our nation? secretary becerra: the most important thing i could ask of you and everybody at families usa, let's make the foxhole bigger. we need as many warriors as we can find helping us, not just on the issues of maternal health, covid and vaccines, but on behavioral health. there is no reason why in america, 100,000 people should die from an overdose of drugs. at hhs, we have taken a new turn, moving away from the traditional approach to dealing with drug abuse disorders, we are casting aside the taboos, traditions, the not wanting to go into an area because they think it is the way you
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shouldn't do it. if it saves lives, we are going to do as much as we can, but we need that army. we need people to get out and help us and make sure congress supports our efforts. but more than that, we need to make sure folks are ready to tell their story so people understand how important it is that we are all in the foxhole, working together to protect each other. >> beautifully said. mr. secretary, we have to make up foxhole as big as we can. this is a fight for everyone. in the example of behavioral health, for me personally and in my professional work, a lot of us feel like we are left behind by society. i don't think there is a better example of a place where we could do so much more to change the lives of people then using the space we have in behavioral health. it is so inspiring to hear that is a focus for you. we are deeply appreciative of everything you are doing to improve the lives of every so in our nation. and remember, you have an army
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behind you. secretary becerra: i have known it for a long time. >> thanks again, talk to you soon. secretary becerra: i look forward to it. happy new year. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> c-span's washington journal. every day, we take your calls live on the air on the news of the day and we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up sunday morning, washington post health care reporter amy goldstein discusses record sign-ups for health insurance coverage under the affordable care act. new york times global economics correspondent peter goodman joins us to talk about his book davo's man: how the billionaires devoured the world. supreme court blogger amy howell talks about justice stephen breyer's retirement, key cases to watch and it decreasing confidence in the high court. watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern sunday morning on c-span or c-span now, our new mobile app joined the discussion
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with your phone calls, facebook comments, >> the national governors association winter meeting continues tomorrow with a discussion on bipartisanship. the chair will participate with the cofounder of the carlyle group. watch live on c-span, online at c-span.org, or on her new app, c-span now. ♪ >> in 2019, a reporter discovered the remains of a slave ship in a swamp outside of alabama. sunday night, he talks about his book opened the last -- his last book. "the last slave ship." >> we have the whole story.
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it serves as a proxy for everyone in the united states, and the world whose families arrived in whatever country they are in. most of those people, it was a proxy for these lost people who were stolen from africa and spread around the world. it is the whole story of slavery. it is all encapsulated in one piece. we know everything about these people are what happened in their lives. >> with his book, sunday night on c-span's q and a. you can listen to q and a and all of our podcasts on our new c-span now app. ♪
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the hour-long discussion was part of the annual world . hello welcome to this very special agenda session affects

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