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HHS News Releases
Updated: 18 hours 53 min ago

Acting Secretary Hargan declares public health emergency in California due to wildfires

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 15:37

Following President Trump’s major disaster declaration for California, Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric D. Hargan today declared a public health emergency in California due to the wildfires devastating the state. The declaration allowed the secretary to issue a waiver under section 1135 of the Social Security Act for the state to enable the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to take action that gives beneficiaries and their health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting critical health needs.

“Wildfires burning across more than 200,000 acres and 10 Northern California counties threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people,” said Acting Secretary Hargan. “Today’s public health declaration will ensure that those who rely upon Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage will receive uninterrupted care during this disaster. HHS stands ready to assist California’s medical response to the wildfires should it be needed.“

The public health emergency declaration is effective retroactively to October 8.

HHS deployed four regional emergency coordinators (RECs) for the area to coordinate with state and local emergency response officials. RECs serve as HHS’ primary representatives throughout the country at the regional level and build relationships with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials and healthcare representatives to plan for effective federal emergency responses and facilitate coordinated response activities with local officials. Two Regional Incident Support Team pharmacists were deployed to the region to provide technical support if the state requests the activation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s ambulance contract to support the transport of a large number of patients.

Staff from HHS’ National Disaster Medical System and the U.S. Public Health Service also stand ready to provide medical care and public health support if needed.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline is available to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the wildfires and help people in impacted areas connect with local behavioral health professionals. Residents can call 1-800-985-5990 toll free or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Critical updates will also be available at:

Trump Administration Takes Action to Abide by the Law and Constitution, Discontinue CSR Payments

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 07:59

U.S. Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma released the following statement announcing that cost-sharing reductions payments will be discontinued immediately based on a legal opinion from the Attorney General:

“It has been clear for many years that Obamacare is bad policy.  It is also bad law. The Obama Administration unfortunately went ahead and made CSR payments to insurance companies after requesting - but never ultimately receiving - an appropriation from Congress as required by law.  In 2014, the House of Representatives was forced to sue the previous Administration to stop this unconstitutional executive action. In 2016, a federal court ruled that the Administration had circumvented the appropriations process, and was unlawfully using unappropriated money to fund reimbursements due to insurers.  After a thorough legal review by HHS, Treasury, OMB, and an opinion from the Attorney General, we believe that the last Administration overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution.  Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately.”

Read CSR Payment Memo*

* Temporary Section 508 Accommodation has been requested for PDF 

HHS, FEMA, DOD and VA continue to provide sustained and critical medical care support for Puerto Rico as part of Trump Administration response to Hurricane Maria

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 07:59

Before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and every day since, federal response personnel from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense (DoD), and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been coordinating efforts with local emergency response officials to ensure that medical care will be available for Puerto Rico residents as soon after the storm as possible, and to re-establish the island’s healthcare infrastructure.

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, it devastated the island’s infrastructure, shutting off communication and transportation to the island, and causing widespread power outages. In its wake were people who would need medical care, either for chronic medical conditions or issues arising as a direct result of the storm. 

Saving Lives:

The healthcare infrastructure on Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. To address the medical needs arising following the storm, HHS coordinated with DoD to transport medical personnel from HHS’ National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) as well as needed medical supplies to the island.

Today, there are more than 600 HHS medical personnel on the island to help those affected by the hurricane. To address medical needs on the island, HHS is operating a three-tier system of care in coordination with the Puerto Rico Department of Health. The first tier of care HHS is providing is at Centro Medico in San Juan, which is the only Tier 1 trauma center on the island. For the second tier of the strategy, HHS medical personnel are supporting hospitals in each of the regions by providing supplies and patient care. For the final tier of the system, through a collaborative effort with DoD, each of the remaining hospitals that are operational in some capacity have liaisons from DoD assigned to them to help ensure they are receiving the supplies they need to continue providing care to their patients.

Traveling around Puerto Rico to aid residents affected by Hurricane Maria is the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort, which includes facilities allowing for resuscitation and stabilization care, initial wound and basic surgery, and postoperative treatment. 

After receiving care at hospitals, some patients require help with ongoing healthcare needs. HHS is in the process of setting up four Federal Medical Stations, each capable of housing up to 250 patients at a time, which give these patients a place to stay while receiving the care they need.

To date, HHS medical personnel have provided care to more than 3,800 people affected by Hurricane Maria.

HHS also coordinated with VA before Hurricane Maria hit to ensure that patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, who are among the most vulnerable populations during disasters because their health depends upon regular dialysis treatment, were transported to more stable environments where they could receive care. VA and HHS transported more than 350 dialysis and critical care patients to more secure locations in San Juan; Miami; Shreveport, Louisiana; Atlanta; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi. Most of these patients were transferred from the U.S. Virgin Islands to San Juan to receive care after Hurricane Irma devastated those islands only two weeks before Hurricane Maria made landfall in the islands.

Ensuring their proper care also required coordination with non-governmental organizations to provide the patients with personal assistance services, emergency financial assistance and renal diets. The coordination of resources was enabled by HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ End Stage Renal Disease Networks and their partners.

After the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, HHS also played an important role in addressing critical needs at some of the most severely impacted dialysis facilities so that patient care could continue. HHS has worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to prioritize resources needed for dialysis facilities on the island and facilitated with FEMA to help ensure critical supplies were delivered where they were needed. The supplies received by the dialysis facilities proved vital to a number of them continuing to operate in some capacity, which is critical to people whose health depends upon regular dialysis treatments.  

To help ensure that uninsured residents of Puerto Rico can continue to receive the prescription medication upon which their health depends, HHS activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program. This program provides 30-day supplies of certain medications free-of-charge through participating pharmacies. More than 750 pharmacies in Puerto Rico participate in this program, and residents of Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria can access the program through local pharmacies where they currently reside.

Stabilizing the Healthcare System:

In the three weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, the island’s healthcare infrastructure is showing signs of stabilizing. Nearly all medical facilities are operating in some capacity and 45 of the island’s 51 dialysis centers are reported to be fully operational. More than half of the hospitals in Puerto Rico are receiving electricity through a power grid that, at times, has proven unstable.

Communications continue to improve for Puerto Rico residents. To help overcome the continuing communications challenges, DoD personnel are positioning communications equipment at each open hospital to ensure supplies can be coordinated.

HHS also is working to confirm the operational status of the hundreds of elder care facilities in Puerto Rico to ensure their needs are being met.

HHS has held daily calls with private-sector partners to ensure that critical infrastructure needs for the healthcare sector are identified so they can be addressed and appropriately prioritized. Through these collaborative efforts, private sector interests that typically may be in competition with each other continue working together to address the needs of those affected by the storm.

For example, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in Puerto Rico are vital to the supply chain in the continental United States. HHS is working closely with these manufacturers to quickly identify potential disruptions resulting from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma, and to support their efforts to maintain the availability of critical healthcare products in Puerto Rico and the continental United States. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was able to expedite processes and procedures to help pharmaceutical manufacturers adjust production levels at facilities unaffected by the storm to ensure that overall U.S. supply was not jeopardized by damage to facilities on Puerto Rico. 

In addition to the efforts provided by HHS and DoD, VA provided both commodities and services for several tons of medical supplies, food, fuel, and water. VA collaborated with two HHS Federal Medical Stations to provide care to Veterans and serve as a Community Based Out-Patient Clinics. VA forward deployed mobile medical centers, pharmacies, counseling units and 196 volunteers to support both Veterans and the public. VA was able to self-sustain and feed employees and families with more than 33,589 meals. VA deployed satellite communications for the VA Hospital, Regional Office, and Clinics to enable communications throughout its Healthcare System. VA further assisted the community by providing Damage Assessment Teams to assess civilian hospitals throughout out the island.

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html. A full toolkit with text messages, social media, phone prompts, and other information to share with people in the affected areas can be found at ‎https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/diaspora_toolkit.html.

Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Updates and health information also are available at:

Acting Secretary Hargan Welcomes Opportunity to Expand Affordable Healthcare Choices

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 07:59

Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s executive order to expand affordable healthcare choices:

“Obamacare’s Washington-knows-best approach has left too many Americans without access to affordable health coverage. Instead of lower costs and more choices, millions of Americans continue to suffer under a system that features surging costs and dwindling choices,” said HHS Acting Secretary Eric Hargan. “Fortunately, President Trump is taking action on patient-centered solutions that would enable Americans to purchase health coverage that works best for them instead of being left with only unaffordable options that have been dictated by Washington. The status quo is unsustainable; it’s time to put Americans back in charge of their healthcare decisions.”

HHS Acting Secretary Wright declares public health emergencies in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi due to Hurricane Nate

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 03:23

Following President Trump’s emergency declarations for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H., today declared public health emergencies in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Nate made landfall in the Gulf Coast states. The declarations allow HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take action that gives beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

"As communities in our Gulf Coast states are facing Hurricane Nate, HHS is ready to provide critical support to our fellow citizens in need,” said HHS Acting Secretary Wright, M.D. “The public health emergency declarations for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi will help ensure our department’s continued ability to protect access to healthcare – particularly for those with Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. HHS assets and personnel will also continue to assist state and local authorities in getting aid to those individuals and families impacted by these storms.”

In addition to increasing the flexibilities in how CMS helps beneficiaries in the path of Hurricane Nate, HHS located two 250 bed federal medical stations in Louisiana to support any of the impacted communities along the Gulf Coast. Additionally, HHS’ Disaster Medical Assistance teams (DMATs) are on alert to assist if needed in the response.

Acting Secretary Wright acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act. These actions and flexibilities for Louisiana are effective October 5, 2017; for Alabama and Mississippi they are effective October 6, 2017; and for Florida, they are effective October 7, 2017.

Federal, local efforts closely coordinated to care for Hurricane Maria survivors

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 03:01

As part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide response efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) personnel, territory officials and community-based organization representatives today launched an effort to visit elder care facilities in each of the 78 municipalities throughout Puerto Rico to ensure their needs are being met.

“We are working with hospitals and the health department in Puerto Rico to shore up the system and explore sustainable approaches to meeting long-term healthcare needs,” said Dr. Robert Kadlec, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response.  “We want to pay attention to people, like the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable.”

To date, medical personnel from HHS’ National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) have provided care to more than 1,000 people affected by Hurricane Maria.

Medical personnel from the Department of Veterans Affairs and USPHS are staffing two Federal Medical Stations, which allow for care for up to 250 people at a time, in Manati and Bayamon, Puerto Rico. HHS personnel also are providing care at medical sites in San Juan, San German, Caguas, Fajardo, Arecibo, Ponce, and Humacao. HHS also is maintaining a liaison in every hospital in Puerto Rico through a collaborative effort with the Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure fuel and supply needs are met.

HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has confirmed that 99 percent of the territory’s approximately 6,000 dialysis patients are receiving regular treatment.

In addition to providing care to hurricane survivors, HHS efforts are focused on stabilizing the public health infrastructure that currently is operational by helping identify resource needs for coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In a partnership with DoD, HHS is working with private sector healthcare systems on sustainment strategies while electricity is being restored.

HHS also is in routine contact with pharmaceutical manufacturers on Puerto Rico to help prevent hurricane-related devastation from causing drug shortages for local residents and in the continental United States.

HHS continues to provide behavioral health support through the Disaster Distress Helpline. Residents can call 1-800-985-5990 toll free or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with companies impacted by the hurricane to prevent critical shortages of medical products in Puerto Rico. There are currently no drug shortages resulting directly from the impact of the storms. This information continues to evolve as companies assess the hurricane damage to Puerto Rico. The FDA, with federal partners, is coordinating with healthcare service companies working to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have access to medical products.

Health care organizations interested in offering bulk medical supplies/treatment personnel, please visit: https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-pr-irma.

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html. A full toolkit with text messages, social media, phone prompts, and other information to share with people in the affected areas can be found at ‎https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/diaspora_toolkit.html.

Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Updates and health information also are available at:

Assistant Secretary McCance-Katz Meets with Innovators to Discuss Solutions to Opioid Crisis

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 02:33

On Thursday, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz on behalf of Acting Secretary Don Wright, M.D., MPH, hosted a listening session at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with innovators from the pain and addiction treatment space to discuss how the Trump Administration and HHS can better address America’s opioid crisis.

Dr. McCance-Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, who is a psychiatrist and addiction specialist, represented HHS at this roundtable meeting. Combating the opioid crisis is a top priority for President Trump, and HHS has identified it as one of the Department’s top three clinical priorities.

Thursday’s gathering is the fourth roundtable in a series of listening sessions at HHS with stakeholders regarding the opioid crisis. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Abuse Deterrent Coalition, including Egalet, Alkermes, BioDelivery Sciences, Braeburn, Indivior, Innovative Health Solutions, Nektar, Regeneron, Smiths Medical and Trevena.

Participants discussed the development of non-addictive and non-euphoric therapeutics for both acute and chronic pain, novel treatments for addiction, and barriers to the development or implementation of these solutions, such as current regulatory or payment policies.

Dr. McCance-Katz noted that HHS is actively listening and looking for innovative ideas and solutions. She also shared the five-point strategy that HHS has unveiled under the Trump Administration for combating the opioid crisis:

  • Improving access to treatment, prevention, and recovery services, including the full range of medication-assisted treatment;
  • Promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs;
  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health data and reporting;
  • Providing support for cutting edge research on pain and addiction; and
  • Advancing better practices for pain management.

Dr. McCance-Katz thanked the participants for their insights and innovative work to address the challenges of pain and addiction in America. She emphasized that President Trump and the entire Trump Administration are deeply committed to addressing the opioid crisis that is devastating our country.

Trump Administration Issues Rules Protecting the Conscience Rights of All Americans

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 02:33

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor are announcing two companion interim final rules that provide conscience protections to Americans who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive/abortifacient services. Obamacare-compliant health insurance plans are required to cover “preventive services,” a term defined through regulation. Under the existing regulatory requirements created by the previous administration, employers, unless they qualify for an exemption, must offer health insurance that covers all FDA-approved contraception, which includes medications and devices that may act as abortifacients as well sterilization procedures.

Under the first of two companion rules released today, entities that have sincerely held religious beliefs against providing such services would no longer be required to do so. The second rule applies the same protections to organizations and small businesses that have objections on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief.

In May, President Trump issued an “Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” in which the President directed the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury to consider amending existing regulations relative to Obamacare’s preventive-care mandate in order to address conscience-based objections.

Key Facts about today’s interim final rules:

  • The regulations exempt entities only from providing an otherwise mandated item to which they object on the basis of their religious beliefs or moral conviction.
  • The regulation leaves in place preventive services coverage guidelines where no religious or moral objection exists – meaning that out of millions of employers in the U.S., these exemptions may impact only about 200 entities, the number that that filed lawsuits based on religious or moral objections.
    • These rules will not affect over 99.9% of the 165 million women in the United States.
  • Current law itself already exempts over 25 million people from the preventive-care mandate because they are insured through an entity that has a health insurance plan that existed prior to the Obamacare statute.
  • The regulations leave in place government programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptive coverage to low income women, such as through community health centers.
  • These regulations do not ban any drugs or devices.
  • The mandate as defined by the previous administration suffered defeats in court after court, including the Supreme Court, which ruled that the government cannot punish business owners for their faith.

The IFR can be found here:

https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2017-21852

https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2017-21851

Eric Hargan Sworn In as HHS Deputy Secretary

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 02:33

Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Don Wright, M.D. issued the following statement after Eric Hargan was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:

“Eric Hargan brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership experience to HHS. His commitment to public service and vast experience in the healthcare field will help guide the department as we advance President Trump’s agenda on behalf of the American people. We look forward to working with Deputy Secretary Hargan to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.”

Eric Hargan Sworn In as HHS Deputy Secretary

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 01:11

Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Don Wright, M.D. issued the following statement after Eric Hargan was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:

“Eric Hargan brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership experience to HHS. His commitment to public service and vast experience in the healthcare field will help guide the department as we advance President Trump’s agenda on behalf of the American people. We look forward to working with Deputy Secretary Hargan to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.”

HHS activa sistema de asistencia para residentes de Puerto Rico sin seguro que necesitan medicamentos

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 01:11

Como parte de la respuesta de todos los estratos del gobierno del Presidente Trump ante el huracán María, el Secretario Adjunto de Preparación y Respuesta (ASPR, en inglés) del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos activó su Programa de asistencia para medicamentos en casos de emergencia (EPAP, en inglés) para que los residentes de Puerto Rico tengan acceso a los medicamentos imprescindibles que necesitan. El programa cubre los costos de los medicamentos recetados para personas sin seguro médico afectadas por catástrofes.

“Durante el tiempo que pasé en Puerto Rico esta semana pude ver con mis propios ojos el alcance de la devastación que sufrió la isla”, dijo el Secretario Adjunto de Preparación y Respuesta, Dr. Robert Kadlec. “Estamos abocados a cubrir las necesidades médicas de los estadounidenses de Puerto Rico durante esta catástrofe, e invito a los residentes sin seguro a aprovechar esta asistencia vital”.

Sin costo para los pacientes no asegurados, quienes necesitan ciertos medicamentos durante una situación de emergencia pueden obtener un suministro para 30 días en cualquiera de las farmacias que trabajan con el EPAP. El listado de medicamentos elegibles está disponible en http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/epap/Pages/formulary.aspx. Los pacientes pueden renovar sus recetas cada 30 días mientras esté activo el EPAP.

También pueden recurrir al programa para reemplazar medicamentos recetados de mantenimiento, algunos suministros médicos específicos, vacunas o equipos médicos que perdieron como resultado directo de una emergencia declarada o como resultado indirecto de las pérdidas o daños causados al transitar un sitio en emergencia para acceder al refugio designado.

El EPAP ofrece un mecanismo eficiente para que las farmacias inscritas procesen reclamaciones de medicamentos recetados, suministros médicos específicos, vacunas y algunos tipos de equipos médicos duraderos para personas elegibles en áreas de desastre identificadas a nivel nacional. Hay más de 750 farmacias que participan del EPAP en Puerto Rico.

Los residentes de Puerto Rico sin seguro afectados por el huracán María pueden llamar a Express Scripts al 855-793-7470 para saber si su medicamento o equipos médicos duraderos en particular están cubiertos por el EPAP y para encontrar una farmacia participante.

El Presidente Donald Trump declaró a Puerto Rico área de catástrofe de grandes dimensiones el 20 de septiembre de 2017, a raíz del paso del huracán María.

El ASPR encabeza el equipo del HHS que prepara al país para responder a y recuperarse de los efectos adversos para la salud que suponen estas situaciones de emergencia, a través del apoyo a las comunidades para que puedan soportar la adversidad, fortaleciendo sus sistemas de salud y respuesta y optimizando la seguridad sanitaria nacional. El HHS es la principal agencia del gobierno nacional para la protección de la salud de los estadounidenses y la provisión de servicios humanos esenciales, especialmente para los más vulnerables.

Hay información acerca de las acciones de salud, seguridad y el HHS en www.phe.gov/emergency. En https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html puede acceder a anuncios de servicios públicos con consejos de salud para después de un temporal. Invitamos a los residentes del territorio continental de los Estados Unidos a que compartan estos consejos con sus familiares y amigos en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU.

Hay actualizaciones e información de salud disponibles también en:

HHS activates aid for uninsured Puerto Rico residents needing medicine

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 01:11

As part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide response to Hurricane Maria, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) for Puerto Rico to give residents access to the critical prescription medications they need. The program pays for prescription medications for people without health insurance who are affected by disasters.

“During my time in Puerto Rico this week, I witnessed the extent of the devastation to the island first-hand,” said HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “We are dedicated to helping these Americans living in Puerto Rico meet their medical needs during this disaster, and I encourage uninsured residents to take advantage of this vital assistance.”

At no cost to uninsured patients, those needing certain drugs during an emergency can obtain a 30-day supply at any of the EPAP participating pharmacies. A list of the eligible drugs is available at http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/epap/Pages/formulary.aspx. Patients can renew their prescriptions every 30 days while the EPAP is active.

They can also use the program to replace maintenance prescription drugs, specific medical supplies, vaccines or medical equipment lost as a direct result of the declared emergency or as a secondary result of loss or damage caused while in transit from the emergency site to the designated shelter facility.

EPAP provides an efficient mechanism for enrolled pharmacies to process claims for prescription medication, specific medical supplies, vaccines and some forms of durable medical equipment for eligible individuals in a federally identified disaster area. More than 750 pharmacies in Puerto Rico participate in EPAP.

Uninsured Puerto Rico residents affected by Hurricane Maria can call Express Scripts, 855-793-7470, to learn if their medication or specific durable medical equipment is covered by EPAP and to find a participating pharmacy.

President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, due to Hurricane Maria.

ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security. HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html. Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Updates and health information also are available at:

ASPR - @PHEgov

HHS - @HHSgov

CDC - @CDCgov

HHS broadens support to shore up health care facilities impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 22:37

To further aid health care facilities in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has implemented a three-tiered strategy as part of the Trump Administration’s ongoing relief efforts.

“The Surgeon General and I met today with Puerto Rico Health Secretary Dr. Rafael Rodríguez Mercado and Secretary of Housing Fernando Gil Enseñat to discuss current and long-term health concerns. Most medical facilities are functioning on generator power so there is an immediate need to shore up the medical infrastructure,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “We will be working together to ensure health and medical care for the people of Puerto Rico, and HHS will be there for as long as we are needed.”

HHS medical experts assisted the Department of Health in Puerto Rico in reaching all of the hospitals on the island and found that all but two of the medical facilities were operational in some capacity.

As the first tier of the strategy, HHS deployed medical teams with their own equipment and medical supplies to assist in providing care at Centro Medico, an emergency and trauma center in San Juan.

As the second tier, HHS dispatched medical teams and set up temporary medical sites to augment five additional hospitals, one in each region of the territory. These sites are:

  • Hospital Pavia Yauco in Yauco, Puerto Rico;
  • Hospital Metropolitano in Arecibo;
  • Hospital General Menonita Caguas (antes-San Juan Bautista Medical Center), in Caguas;
  • Hospital De La Concepcion, in San German; and,
  • Hima San Pablo Fajardo in Fajardo.

With the third tier, HHS placed a liaison in each of the other open hospitals to stay abreast of the supply and fuel needs. These liaisons, provided by the Department of Defense, ensure federal and territory agencies prioritize supply and fuel needs to keep the hospitals functioning to the extent possible.

With a physical presence in each hospital, the liaisons also can alert federal and territory officials immediately if a hospital generator fails and the hospital needs to evacuate patients to other hospitals.

HHS medical teams from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps have seen more than 330 patients since they began augmenting local facilities September 25.

To provide additional surge capacity if needed, the Department of Defense hospital ship USNS COMFORT is on its way to Puerto Rico. The ship offers the full range of medical care with surgical, obstetric and pediatric capability and is equivalent to a level-two trauma center in the United States. The ship is staffed by more than 500 medical personnel and support staff and holds 250 hospital beds.

HHS also is deploying five federal medical stations from the Strategic National Stockpile to serve as shelters for people with special medical needs at any location designated by the Puerto Rico Department of Health. Each federal medical station provides up to 250 beds and is staffed by NDMS members, PHS officers and personnel from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

HHS medical personnel are accompanying Urban Search and Rescue in previously unreached areas of the island to triage residents found and, if needed, arrange transport for medical care. To date, residents have needed water for dehydration and basic first aid care.

In addition to medical care, HHS continues to provide behavioral health support through the Disaster Distress Helpline. Residents can call 1-800-985-5990 toll free or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. So far, the line has received more than 6,275 calls in areas impacted by hurricanes this year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with companies impacted by the hurricane to prevent critical shortages of medical products in Puerto Rico. There are currently no drug shortages resulting directly from the impact of the storms. This information continues to evolve as companies assess the hurricane damage to Puerto Rico. The FDA, with federal partners, is coordinating with healthcare service companies working to ensure that Puerto Ricans have access to medical products.

Health care organizations interested in offering bulk medical supplies/treatment personnel, please visit: https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-pr-irma

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html. Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Updates and health information also are available at:

HHS augments medical care at hospitals in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 18:00

The Department of Health and Human Services medical staff today will assist two more partially operational medical facilities and a shelter in Puerto Rico as part of the Trump administration’s relief efforts for the U.S. territories impacted by Hurricane Maria. Last night, HHS began providing assistance at four medical facilities.

These sites are in addition to the temporary medical site established at Centro Medico, an emergency and trauma center in San Juan where HHS medical teams have seen more than 245 patients.

"We are bringing the full force of HHS' medical assets and resources to provide needed medical care and to aid in restoring the healthcare system in Puerto Rico," said Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D.

Staff from HHS and the Department of Defense assisted the Puerto Rico Department of Health in visiting 64 of the 69 medical facilities on the island to identify specific support needs. The visits found that 60 medical facilities were operational in some capacity, and four were closed. HHS also received reports that 46 of 48 dialysis centers in Puerto Rico were at least partially operational.

To provide additional medical support, HHS today will begin establishing two Federal Medical Stations sent from the Strategic National Stockpile to serve as temporary shelters for people with special medical needs.

HHS medical personnel also will join Urban Search and Rescue in unreached parts of the island to triage residents found and, if needed, arrange transport for medical care.

More than 500 HHS personnel from the National Disaster Medical System and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are deployed to Puerto Rico to staff the temporary medical sites and Federal Medical Stations, providing medical and public health support to the territory. Additional personnel are on alert from across the continental United States.

Currently, National Disaster Medical System personnel are deployed from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. 

HHS staff members from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Administration for Children and Families are working with the American Red Cross and other non-government organizations to provide transportation, meals, and other support for approximately 120 dialysis patients evacuated from U.S. Virgin Islands to Atlanta. Staff identified hotels near dialysis centers where HHS is paying for these residents to stay until they can return home safely.

In addition to medical care, HHS continues to provide behavioral health support through the Disaster Distress Helpline. Residents can call 1-800-985-5990 toll free or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. So far, the line has received more than 6,275 calls in areas impacted by hurricanes this year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with companies impacted by the hurricane to prevent critical shortages of medical products in Puerto Rico. There are currently no drug shortages resulting directly from the impact of the storms. This information continues to evolve as companies assess the hurricane damage to Puerto Rico. The FDA, with federal partners, is coordinating with healthcare service companies working to ensure that Puerto Ricans have access to medical products.

If you are a healthcare organization interested in offering bulk medical supplies/treatment personnel, or are looking to provide aircraft for evacuations, please visit: https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-pr-irma.

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html.

Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Updates and health information also are available at:

Don Wright Designated Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 15:06

Today, President Trump designated Don Wright, MD, MPH, as Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services, effective September 29, 2017, at 11:59 p.m.  Dr. Wright, a career official who has served at the Department for nearly ten years, has been Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS since February 10, 2017.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the American people and the Administration in this role,” Dr. Wright said.  “I look forward to ensuring that the important work of the Department in support of the President’s agenda continues to move forward during this interim period.”

From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Wright was the HHS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health. He also served as the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Dr. Wright received an undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University, a medical degree from the University of Texas, and a master’s degree in public health from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed his family medicine residency training at Baylor College of Medicine and is board-certified in both Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine.

HHS accelerates development of first Ebola vaccines and drugs

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 15:06

Hundreds of thousands of Americans could be protected from or treated for Ebola infections through the first purchase of vaccines and therapeutic drugs by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The vaccines and drugs are the first for Ebola to receive Project BioShield funding which supports late-stage development toward licensure and stockpile purchases.

“Today we are prepared to add four Ebola countermeasures to the stockpile whereas three years ago, very few products were even in early stages of development,” BARDA Director Rick Bright, Ph.D., said. “This marks a pivotal moment in U.S. and global preparedness for future public health emergencies from viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. We reached this point at unprecedented speed, and that’s a direct result of innovative approaches to product development and to partnering across the U.S. government, other nations, and private industry.”

Ebola is considered a potential bioterrorism threat by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as a naturally occurring public health threat. Natural Ebola outbreaks occur most often in African countries, the most recent, from 2014 through 2016. According to the World Health Organization, during that outbreak more than 28,600 cases of Ebola virus infection were suspected, probable or confirmed and more than 11,000 people died.

Under the agreements announced today, BARDA will provide Project BioShield funding for each company to validate its manufacturing processes and undertake the final preparations necessary to apply for approval through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While that work is completed, BARDA can purchase the vaccines and drugs for potential use in a public health emergency.

BARDA could purchase up to 1.13 million regimens of vaccine, including a single-dose vaccine from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and a two-dose vaccine from Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V. of Leiden, The Netherlands. In addition, BARDA will purchase a therapeutic drug from Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc. of San Diego, California, and a therapeutic drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Tarrytown, New York.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp’s single-shot vaccine would be used to protect people who are at high risk of exposure to Ebola. BARDA will provide $39.2 million for late stage development and purchase. The vaccine showed potential efficacy during testing in Guinea, West Africa, using a ring-vaccination protocol. This approach aims to stop the spread of a virus by vaccinating everyone a patient came in contact with and everyone who came in contact with the patient’s contacts.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supported the vaccine’s discovery and partnered with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense to fund early development. BioProtection Systems Corporation continued the vaccine’s development with support from NIAID, BARDA, DoD, and international partners. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp now will take additional steps necessary to apply for licensure of the vaccine through the FDA.

Janssen Vaccines and Prevention B.V.’s vaccine is a two-dose vaccine regimen that would be used to prevent illness in people who have not been exposed to Ebola but could be, such as health care workers and the general public. The regimen requires an initial vaccine which is protective against Ebola, followed by a second vaccine that uses different technology and boosts the body’s immune response. This two-dose approach has progressed into multiple Phase 3 studies and demonstrated efficacy in animal models.

This vaccine also received early funding from NIAID to conduct clinical studies in Guinea and Liberia and transitioned to BARDA’s advanced research and development program. Now BARDA will provide $44.7 million for late-stage development and purchase under Project BioShield.

Under the agreement with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, BARDA will initially provide $45.9 million for late-stage development and initial purchase of the therapeutic drug ZMapp™ under Project BioShield. ZMapp is a combination of three monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies bind certain proteins in the virus cell to neutralize the virus, decreasing the amount of the virus in the body that the patient's immune system has to fight.

ZMapp was shown to reduce mortality in guinea pigs and nonhuman primates exposed to Ebola viruses. ZMapp was manufactured for a Phase 1/2 clinical trial during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic and used to treat 36 patients with a separate control arm of 35 patients. ZMapp continues to be available and, through an expanded access protocol in the United States and West Africa, the company can collect clinical data when the product is used.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within the Department of Defense and the NIAID supported initial work on ZMapp. To speed the drug’s development, BARDA worked closely with those agencies and then worked separately with the company to optimize and accelerate the manufacturing of ZMapp.

In addition, BARDA will initially provide $40.4 million for late-stage development and an initial purchase of REGN3470-3471-3479 from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s therapeutic is a monoclonal antibody drug manufactured using specialized CHO mammalian (Chinese hamster ovary) cells. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. used its proprietary technology to accelerate the drug’s development timeline from rapid candidate identification to large scale manufacture and can produce large quantities of the drug quickly in an emergency.

Final development and purchase of the new Ebola vaccines and therapeutic drugs under Project BioShield are part of ASPR’s efforts to prepare the nation for Ebola and other severe, highly infectious biothreats, either natural or man-made.

To provide the necessary vaccines and drugs to prevent or treat Ebola and other biothreats, BARDA maintains a comprehensive integrated portfolio approach to advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures - vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include pandemic influenza, chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, emerging infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistant pathogens.

ASPR and other federal agencies collaborate as a Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasure Enterprise to prioritize and develop medical countermeasures needed to save lives in disasters and public health emergencies. Through this collaborative body, potential products transition from basic research and early clinical trials at one agency, such as NIAID, to BARDA for the advanced development necessary for a private company to apply for FDA approval or licensure.

HHS is the principal federal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. ASPR leads HHS in preparing the nation to respond to and recover from adverse health effects of emergencies, supporting communities’ ability to withstand adversity, strengthening health and response systems, and enhancing national health security.

For more information on public health and medical preparedness, visit www.phe.gov and to learn more about partnering with BARDA in medical countermeasure development visit www.medicalcountermeasures.gov.

HHS boosts post-Hurricane Maria medical surge into U.S. territories

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:15

More than 500 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) personnel are engaged in today in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to address residents’ medical and public health needs as part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide response to the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

"Hundreds of dedicated medical professionals from HHS are actively engaged in the response to help residents affected by these devastating storms,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Robert Kadlec, M.D. “We are fully committed to ensuring the local healthcare infrastructure comes back on line to support the residents of Puerto Rico."

Personnel from HHS’ National Disaster Medical System and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps have provided care for more than 200 patients at a temporary federal medical site at the Centro Medico hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. HHS medical personnel also are providing assistance to an overwhelmed emergency department, providing staffing support, and providing medical shelter for transferred patients in San Juan.

Due to lack of phone service in Puerto Rico, HHS teams are traveling to hospitals across Puerto Rico to assess the level of damage to the facilities, whether these facilities are operating, how many resources they may lack and whether patients at the facilities need to be evacuated. HHS personnel have conducted assessments of hospitals on the islands. HHS personnel have assessed hospitals in the Puerto Rican cities of Bayamon, Mayaguez, Fajardo, Arecibo, Metro, Caguas and Ponce.

All but one of the medical facilities is operating on generators that will need resupply to continue operations. HHS is working with federal and territory partners to prioritize power restoration and fuel delivery to medical facilities.

HHS medical personnel also are supporting overwhelmed emergency departments on St. Croix and St. Thomas, and are providing care for patients on St. John.

Before and after Hurricane Maria hit the islands, HHS personnel along with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs transferred more than 350 dialysis and critical care patients to more secure locations in San Juan; Miami; Shreveport, Louisiana; Atlanta; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi.

HHS agencies are using every possible means to assist the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands health departments in providing information to residents to preempt widespread injury or illness as they clean up debris, flood-affected properties, and mold in the hot temperatures and combat mosquitoes that breed in standing water. HHS also is distributing public health information through the Puerto Rican diaspora communities in the continental United States.

A team of public health and environmental health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also deployed to assist Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with assessments of shelters, water systems and other environmental health and public health needs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to work with territory officials and the thousands of food and medical product firms in the U.S. territories affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to assess the impact on their facilities. The FDA’s most immediate goal is to ensure the safety and availability of critical, medically necessary products used by patients and consumers in need. The FDA is working to help Puerto Rico and its considerable drug and medical device manufacturing base to ensure that supply of these products is maintained, and to return these workers to their jobs as soon as possible.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for territory residents to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the storm. Residents can call 1-800-985-5990 toll free or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Information on health, safety and HHS actions are available at www.phe.gov/emergency. Public Service Announcements with post-storm health tips are available at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/psa/index.html. Residents in the continental United States are encouraged to provide these tips to family members and friends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Updates and health information also are available at:

Statement of HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., Regarding Private Charter Airplane Travel

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:15

Today, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement:

“I continue to welcome and am cooperating fully with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of processes and procedures related to my official travel as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I have also taken the additional step of initiating a departmental review to determine if any changes or reforms are necessary. As I have previously stated, all of this travel was approved by legal and HHS officials.

“Despite this, I regret the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars. All of my political career I’ve fought for the taxpayers. It is clear to me that in this case, I was not sensitive enough to my concern for the taxpayer. I know as well as anyone that the American people want to know that their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely by government officials.

“To make sure everyone knows that I understand and appreciate this, and to make sure everyone knows that this will never happen again, I am taking the following steps:

  • My staff and I will continue to cooperate fully with the OIG and internal review. 
  • I will take no more private charter flights as Secretary of HHS. No exceptions.
  • Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes.  

“I have spent forty years both as a doctor and in public service putting people first. It has been my personal honor to serve the American people, and I look forward to continuing that service.”

HHS Secretary Price Announces New Chair and New Members of Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:15

Today, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. announced seven new members to serve on the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. The council, established in 2011, convenes quarterly to advise the Secretary on federal programs that affect people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and continue development and progress on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease by HHS, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. The new members will serve four-year terms and replace the members whose terms expire in September. Secretary Price addressed the six outgoing members of the council at their last meeting in July, thanking them for their service and dedication.

"We are pleased to welcome this group of experienced members, including a patient advocate living with dementia, to continue the important work of the advisory council in assisting HHS with further progress on treating and curing Alzheimer's disease and related dementias," said Secretary Price. "We received over a hundred nominations for this round of new members, which clearly demonstrates the level of engagement and continued commitment towards making progress on this disease."

Dr. Laura N. Gitlin, who joined the council in 2015, will be the next chair of the council, replacing Dr. Ronald Petersen. Dr. Gitlin is an applied research sociologist, is the Isabel Hampton Robb Distinguished Professor within the School of Nursing with joint appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Division of Geriatric Medicine within the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.  Starting February 1, 2018, she will be the Distinguished Professor and Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University.

The new members are as follows:

Cynthia Huling Hummel (Patient Advocate – Person Living with Dementia)
Reverend Dr. Hummel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2016. She has participated in numerous presentations and speeches about her disease and is actively helping plan the upcoming National Research Summit on Care, Services and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers. 

Debra Cherry (Patient Advocate)
Dr. Cherry is currently the Executive Vice President of Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles. For more than 25 years, she has been an effective advocate for persons with dementia and their families. She has led numerous initiatives to develop and evaluate programs to improve quality of care for people living with dementia and advocated at the local, state, and national level to increase access to services. She has expertise across a number of areas as a provider in geriatric psychology, advocate, and leader of an association.

Katie Brandt (Caregiver)
Ms. Brandt is Director of Caregiver Support Services in the Frontotemporal dementia unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. She came as a member of the public to an advisory council meeting in July 2014, where she told her moving personal story of losing her young husband to frontotemporal dementia and caring for her father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the same time.

Allan Levey (Healthcare Provider)
Dr. Levey is the Director of Emory University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Chairman of the Department of Neurology. He is widely respected among providers and researchers in this field. Dr. Levey is a practicing neurologist in addition to his work on neurodegenerative research and will bring an important dually-informed perspective to the council.

Bradley Hyman (Researcher)
Dr. Hyman is a world renowned neurologist, neuropathologist and neuroscientist with extensive experience in basic and translational neurosciences of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  Dr. Hyman has served at NACA, as chairman, and as an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center director.  He is also involved in new criteria of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and developed the standardized neuropathological criteria for Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Becky Kurtz (State Public Health Department)
For more than 25 years, Ms. Kurtz has influenced aging policy at state and federal levels and led the provision of social and advocacy services for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Ms. Kurtz currently directs the Aging and Independence Services group within the Atlanta Regional Commission, widely regarded as one of the most innovative area agencies on aging (AAA) in the nation.  Previously she led the Long-Term Ombudsman program both at the state and federal levels and provided legal services to low income elders. In each of these roles, Ms. Kurtz has served and advocated for individuals living with dementia, their families and caregivers. 

Robert Egge (Voluntary Health Association)
Mr. Egge is the Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Public Policy Officer and Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, and leads the Association’s Public Policy division based in Washington, DC. The division includes government affairs, policy development and grassroots advocacy teams working in pursuit of policies to better serve those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. 

The full advisory council also includes federal members and meets quarterly to continue development and progress on the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease by HHS, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. Find the roster at: https://aspe.hhs.gov/advisory-council-alzheimers-research-care-and-services-members

Alzheimer's disease currently affects 5.3 million Americans and is expected to affect more than 20 million by 2050. The National Alzheimer's Project Act pledges to help people and families across the country whose lives are touched by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The Act continues to help strengthen dementia research, clinical care, and long-term care services and supports for affected individuals and their families.

The next meeting of the advisory committee will be October 27, 2017. For more information on the advisory committee, please visit https://aspe.hhs.gov/national-alzheimers-project-act

HHS Office of Minority Health awards $5 million to help communities address the opioid crisis, childhood obesity and serious mental illness

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 12:42

As part of the Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic, childhood obesity and serious mental illness in communities throughout the country, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced just over $5 million in new cooperative agreement awards to 15 organizations. The awards were made through the OMH Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative (Empowered Communities Initiative), which was created to help minority and disadvantaged populations in communities disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic, childhood obesity and serious mental illness.

The 15 organizations receiving the Empowered Communities Initiative funds are:

Organization Focus City State Award Mariposa Community Health Center, Inc. Obesity Nogales AZ $349,446 California State University Long Beach Research Foundation Obesity Long Beach CA $350,000 The Morehouse School of Medicine, Inc. Opioid Atlanta GA $350,000 The University of Chicago Serious Mental Illness Chicago IL $334,620 The Community Clinic, Inc. Obesity Silver Spring MD $349,722 Boston Medical Center Corporation Opioid Boston MA $349,734 Regents of the University of Michigan Opioid Ann Arbor MI $349,978 Mississippi State Department of Health Obesity Jackson MS $350,000 The Institute for Family Health Obesity New York NY $349,260 Community Prevention Partnership of Berks County Obesity Reading PA $349,707 Meharry Medical College Opioid Nashville TN $350,000 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Obesity Edinburg TX $344,689 Virginia Department of Health Opioid Richmond VA $350,000 City of Huntington Opioid Huntington WV $350,000 Marquette University Obesity Milwaukee WI $350,000       Total $5,227,156

“We selected the opioid crisis, childhood obesity and serious mental illness as our top three clinical priorities at HHS because they are three of the country’s most pressing public health concerns,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D.

The Empowered Communities Initiative provides funding to communities grappling with some of the nation’s most immediate and growing public health challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999, and more than 500,000 people died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. The CDC also reports that obesity affects about 12.7 million children in the U.S. (2011-2014) and obesity rates are higher among African Americans and Latinos. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were nearly 10 million adults with serious mental illness in 2014, and people with serious mental illness are more likely to be unemployed, arrested, have inadequate housing and die at an early age.

“Communities throughout the country are struggling to meet the serious and urgent challenges posed by the opioid crisis, and the effects of childhood obesity and serious mental illness,” said Dr. Matthew Lin, deputy assistant secretary for minority health and director of the HHS Office of Minority Health. “The Empowered Communities Initiative is designed to help communities meet these critical public health challenges by supporting collaborations at the local level that will lead to community-based solutions.”

The Empowered Communities Initiative promotes community-based collaborations, including academic research centers and prevention centers, to improve the health of communities where opioid misuse, childhood obesity and serious mental illness pose the greatest threats.

For additional information visit: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov

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