Overview of the President’s Health Care Reform Proposal

February 22, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health, House of Representatives, politics straight up, senate, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Public Health Service nurse treating patient. Between 1918 and 1925. (Library of Congress)

In advance of Thursday’s bipartisan health care reform summit, the White House has posted specific proposals.

The 11-page “blueprint” is here (PDF).

The HCR bill passed by the House in November 2009, as well as CBO and budget information, can be read here. The HCR bill passed by the Senate in December 2009, as well as related information, is available here.

A Republican plan posted at an unknown date, but perhaps October 2009, is here. Whether they’re sticking to what is in this proposed “substitution” is anybody’s guess. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has no information.

Read up, then call your Congresscritters and let them know what you think.

UPDATE: The White House has information about Republican ideas included in the President’s proposal and the legislation passed by Congress here.

Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room provides a brief side-by-side comparison between the president’s current proposals and the House and Senate bills here.

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“Prevent syphilis in marriage”

October 16, 2009 at 1:06 am | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health, Historical | Leave a comment
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Poster for the New York State Department of Health encouraging couples to take action to prevent syphilis in marriage.  Federal Art Project.  Date stamped on verso: Jul 19 1940.  (Library of Congress)

Poster for the New York State Department of Health encouraging couples to take action to prevent syphilis in marriage. Federal Art Project. Date stamped on verso: Jul 19 1940. (Library of Congress)

FDA Appointment.

March 12, 2009 at 9:32 am | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services | Leave a comment
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Ohio : WPA Art Program, between 1936 and 1940

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.

The FDA is a mess, by anyone’s standards. The FDA regulates $417 billion worth of domestic food and $49 billion worth of imported food each year (meat, poultry and some egg products are regulated by the Department of Agriculture).

I’ve had a look at the FDA’s current “food protection plan.” I can’t say I am impressed. One of the FDA’s legislative goals is to be able to outsource its already inadequate food inspections to “highly-qualified third parties.” Why have an FDA at all if oversight and enforcement are outsourced to people who have zero accountability?

It seems to me there has been entirely too much reliance on food providers and suppliers to police themselves. It would be nice to be able to buy a jar of peanut butter without wondering what else is in it besides peanuts. I prefer mine not to contain bug and rat bits, even if it is Salmonella Typhimurium free.

What’s That You’re Eating?

January 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Posted in Food & Drug Administration | Leave a comment
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Lester P. W. Wehle, a live-poultry inspector for the city of New York, inspects the crop of a chicken, 1951.  (World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

Lester P. W. Wehle, a live-poultry inspector for the city of New York, inspects the crop of a chicken, 1951. (World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

(Newsday.com) “The truth be told, the FDA is a failed agency … the main problem is that it is terribly underfunded,” [Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic] said. “It needs to do more inspections, especially of foods brought in internationally. We are all very vulnerable. This has to be fixed and fixed quickly.”

One hundred and two years ago — on June 30, 1906 — President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Food and Drugs Act. The Pure Food Law was an important part of that legislation.

h/t Crooks & Liars

FDA History Office)

Harvey W. Wiley, MD (Photo: FDA History Office)

Harvey W. Wiley came to be the leader of the “pure food crusade.” A chemist and physician, State chemist of Indiana and professor at Purdue University, Wiley went to Washington in 1883 as chief chemist of the Department of Agriculture. He made the study of food adulteration his bureau’s principal business, at first merely outraged by what he deemed essentially harmless fraud. In time, sensing real threats to health, Wiley could express himself in writing, conversation, and oratory with vividness, clarity, homely wit, and moral passion. He toured the country making speeches, every rostrum a pulpit for the gospel of pure food.

How much melamine is in your cookies?

Obama Announces Tom Daschle for Secretary of Health

December 11, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Department of Health & Human Services, health, television | 1 Comment
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I’m happy that Tom Daschle is committed to moving us toward full healthcare for all, but I sure hope he’s got a plan for the FDA as well.   It seems a little silly to be covering the costs of healthcare for people who are being fed melamine.

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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