Secretary of Health & Human Services

December 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health | 3 Comments
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Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1941

Illinois WPA Art Project, between 1936 and 1941

President-Elect Obama has nominated former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his Secretary of Health & Human Services.

(UPDATE: After much delay by Republic [sic] senators, Sebelius was confirmed on April 28, 2009)

According to their website, “the Department of Health & Human Services  (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.”

The Social Security Administration, formerly part of HHS, was made a separate department in 1995.

The Surgeon General is head of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of more than 6,000 health professionals who serve in many HHS and other federal agencies.

Departments within HHS include:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provide health care to almost one in every three Americans. Medicare provides health insurance for more than 44.6 million elderly and disabled Americans. Medicaid, a joint federal-state program, provides health coverage for some 50 million low-income persons, including 24 million children, and nursing home coverage for low-income elderly. CMS also administers the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that covers more than 4.4 million children.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)  is responsible for some 60 programs that promote the economic and social well-being of children, families and communities. Administers the state-federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, providing assistance to an estimated 4 million persons, including 3 million children. Administers the national child support enforcement system, collecting nearly $24 billion in FY 2006 in payments from non-custodial parents, based on preliminary data. Administers the Head Start program, serving nearly 895,000 pre-school children. Provides funds to assist low-income families in paying for child care, and supports state programs to support foster care and provide adoption assistance. Funds programs to prevent child abuse and domestic violence.

Administration on Aging (AOA) supports a nationwide aging network, providing services to the elderly, especially to enable them to remain independent. Supports some 240 million meals for the elderly each year, including home-delivered “meals on wheels.” Helps provide transportation and at-home services. Supports ombudsman services for elderly, and provides policy leadership on aging issues.

The following fall under the rubric of US Public Health Agencies:

National Institutes of Health (NIH)  is the world’s premier medical research organization, supporting over 38,000 research projects nationwide in diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, heart ailments and AIDS.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  assures the safety of foods and cosmetics, and the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, biological products, and medical devices.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with states and other partners, provides a system of health surveillance to monitor and prevent disease outbreaks (including bioterrorism), implement disease prevention strategies, and maintain national health statistics. Provides for immunization services, workplace safety, and environmental disease prevention. Also guards against international disease transmission, with personnel stationed in more than 25 foreign countries. The CDC director is also administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which helps prevent exposure to hazardous substances from waste sites on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List, and develops toxicological profiles of chemicals at these sites.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides access to essential health care services for people who are low-income, uninsured or who live in rural areas or urban neighborhoods where health care is scarce. HRSA-funded health centers will provide medical care to nearly 17 million patients at more than 4,000 sites nationwide in FY 2008. The agency maintains the National Health Service Corps and helps build the health care workforce through training and education programs. Administers a variety of programs to improve the health of mothers and children and serves people living with HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White CARE Act programs. Also oversees the nation’s organ transplantation system.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services. Provides funding through block grants to states to support substance abuse and mental health services, including treatment for Americans with serious substance abuse problems or mental health problems. Improves substance abuse prevention and treatment services through the identification and dissemination of best practices. Monitors prevalence and incidence of substance abuse.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)  supports research on health care systems, health care quality and cost issues, access to health care, and effectiveness of medical treatments. Also provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes and quality of care.

(Poster courtesy of The Library of Congress)



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  1. […] the chatter about Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health & Human Services has been about healthcare coverage. The Food & Drug Administration, responsible for ensuring […]

  2. […] Heidi Ashworth wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services. Provides funding through block grants to … […]

  3. […] FDA Appointment. March 12, 2009 at 9:32 am | In Department of Health & Human Services | Tags: FDA, Food & Drug Administration, Margaret A. Hamburg Ohio : WPA Art Program, between 1936 and 1940 Word is that Margaret A. Hamburg, a former New York City health commissioner, will be President Obama’s nominee to head the Food & Drug Administration. The FDA is part of the Department of Health & Human Services. […]

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