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Above HHS's Pay Grade

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A certain subject was declared off limits during a conference call with reporters held this morning by the two top officials at the Health and Human Services Department.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick made opening statements reporting encouraging new data showing that the Affordable Care Act has prevented hikes in prescription drug premiums in 2012, moved 17 million seniors into free preventive care and allowed some 900,000 seniors a 50 percent discount on drugs.

But when reporters one by one asked the officials to speculate on the fate of spending on federal medical programs in the wake of the newly enacted Budget Control Act, they were told all such questions must be directed to the White House.

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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