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Updated: 6 hours 42 min ago

Readout of Secretary Price’s Meetings in Beijing, China

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 22:20

On Sunday, August 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. arrived in Beijing, China, as part of a three-nation visit to Asia in support of President Donald Trump's commitment to global health security. Secretary Price first met with China-based academics and non-governmental health organizations during a dinner hosted by Terry Branstad, U.S. Ambassador to China. Discussion focused on U.S.-China cooperation on health, opportunity for private and public sector collaboration, and how the partnership between the U.S. and China should meet the mutual interests of both nations.

On Monday, August 21, Secretary Price visited the National Cancer Center, part of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. There the Secretary toured the Center’s operating room facilities and participated in a meeting with Dr. Jie He, President of the National Cancer Center; Terry Branstad, U.S. Ambassador to China; Dr. Ted Trimble, Director of the Center for Global Health at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, a component of HHS, as well as physicians and other healthcare providers that were in attendance. Discussions focused on the need for increased collaboration between the United States and China in cancer research and treatments. Secretary Price confirmed the importance of sharing data and training best practices between our two nations – including in the area of clinical trials – and noted that the world is on the cusp of exciting breakthroughs and opportunities for greater success in the fight against cancer.

Later in the morning, Secretary Price attended a bilateral meeting with China’s Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Li Bin. The two discussed how to build upon the U.S. and China’s nearly forty years of working together on health – in particular in the areas of global health security and building up capacity to address common threats like influenza. Secretary Price reiterated the United States’ strong support for the Global Health Security Agenda and encouraged China to increase its involvement in this initiative.

Secretary Price stopped by offices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to greet CDC staff working in China to prepare for, prevent, and respond to infectious diseases. Secretary Price then participated in a roundtable hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the topic of preparing for the next pandemic, with a special emphasis on One Health – the interface between animals and humans and infectious disease threats. On the panel with the Secretary was Dr. George F. Gao, Director General of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO Representative in China. During the discussion, Secretary Price highlighted the work of HHS personnel in China and around the world and punctuated the importance of building up preparedness capabilities – noting that "bugs are smart" and infectious diseases do not respect borders. He praised the progress that has been made in combatting the spread of disease while cautioning that more must be done through collaboration and education. He joined his fellow panelists in drawing attention to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Later in the afternoon, Secretary Price met with HHS staff stationed in China to thank them for all they do every day to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the American people, standing on the frontlines to combat the spread of infectious diseases, and building partnerships with nations around the world to advance global health security.

Monday concluded with an industry roundtable focused on how best to encourage innovation and lift undue burdens on health entrepreneurs – including through the harmonization of regulatory structures, so that companies looking to invest in and grow their businesses have greater transparency and predictability.

On Tuesday, August 22, Secretary Price joined China CDC Director General Dr. George F. Gao at the offices of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Their meeting continued to highlight the need for communication and collaboration between the United States and China – particularly in the areas of data sharing, increasing transparency, combatting influenza, supporting preparedness and response to infectious diseases in Africa, and HIV prevention and control.

Readout of Secretary Price’s Visit to Anchorage, Alaska

Sun, 08/20/2017 - 18:01

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. participated in a roundtable with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage, visited Alaska tribal health facilities, and toured human service sites with programs tailored to the unique needs of Alaska Natives. HHS plays an integral role in the relationship between the federal government and tribal governments – particularly through the department’s Indian Health Service.

During the roundtable with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Secretary Price thanked the participants for travelling from across Alaska to share the successes and challenges associated with delivering effective healthcare in Alaska. Members of the Consortium talked about how they are able to leverage federal resources to focus services on individual patients, treating the whole person under difficult circumstances. Secretary Price honored the innovations that tribal health organizations employed to create effective systems of care in a state as vast and diverse as Alaska. Many of the participants highlighted the unique concerns that come with the delivery of care to remote areas as well as the impact of the opioid crisis on tribal communities.

Following the roundtable, Secretary Price toured the Alaska Native Medical Center and the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center (ANPCC) to gain a better understanding of how primary care is delivered in Alaska and see the high level of quality care offered at these facilities. At the Medical Center, Dr. Price met an expectant mother with a high risk pregnancy who had traveled from her home to seek care. At ANPCC he met with Southcentral Foundation leadership and discussed the innovative approach the foundation and ANPCC has taken in delivering health and human services to Alaska Natives.

Secretary Price also toured the Ernie Turner Treatment Center and the Claire Swan Early Head Start Child Program where he met with Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) executives. Secretary Price listened to how HHS resources help CITC provide effective, community-based services to Alaska Natives of all ages. For example, at the Claire Swan Early Head Start Child Care Center, Secretary Price saw how Head Start resources can be used to provide child care services that are strongly grounded in the cultural, linguistic, and social needs of Alaskan families. At the Ernie Turner Center CITC shared how participants receive mental health and substance-abuse counseling that is immersed in Alaska Native values.

On behalf of President Trump, Secretary Price voiced the Administration’s commitment to continuing to support and empower American communities to secure for themselves access to high quality healthcare and human services

Secretary Price Statement on the Signing of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 15:12

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement after President Trump signed the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017:

“By signing the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 into law, President Trump is ensuring that safe and effective, life-saving treatments will continue to reach American patients, from innovative new drugs, to generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices. The law will support our team at FDA as they carry out the HHS mission to enhance and protect the health and well-being of the American people and continue to advance medical breakthroughs.”

HHS Secretary Price: Agreement with Mylan a Victory for Americans Who Rely on Lifesaving EpiPen

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:55

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. released the following statement today after the announcement of an agreement with Mylan, the manufacturer of EpiPen to reclassify the auto injection medical device, a move that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The agreement will reclassify EpiPen as a brand name drug consistent with the Medicaid statute and regulations. Mylan has agreed to use the correct reference price of the 3rd quarter of 1990 for the purpose of calculating inflationary payment rebates under the Medicaid Drug Rebate (MDR) program. These changes will be effective retroactive to April 1, 2017.

“Mylan’s agreement to reclassify EpiPen is a tremendous victory for Americans who rely on this important lifesaving device and especially for Medicaid beneficiaries across the country,” said Price. “CMS Administrator Seema Verma and the team at HHS are working every day in support of President Trump’s goal of lowering the costs of drugs and medical devices in our country and making healthcare more affordable.”

Public Members Appointed to New Federal Effort to Address Serious Mental Illness

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 11:08

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today the appointment of national experts to guide a new initiative to better serve Americans with serious mental illness.

The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) was established by the 21st Century Cures Act to improve federal coordination of efforts that address the pressing needs of adults with serious mental illness and children and youth with serious emotional disturbance.  Individuals with these conditions too often lack access to evidence-based treatment and supports and experience high rates of suicide, unemployment, homelessness, criminal justice involvement and other negative outcomes.

Earlier this year, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. identified serious mental illness as one of the department’s top three clinical priorities. “We look forward to working with the committee to get individuals with serious mental illness the care they need,” said Secretary Price. “For too long, our nation has let down Americans with serious mental illness, and the committee will help inform HHS’s efforts to turn that around.”

The ISMICC is composed of senior leaders from ten federal agencies including HHS, the Departments of Justice, Labor, Veteran Affairs, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor and the Social Security Administration along with 14 non-federal public members.

In response to a call for interested participants, HHS received over 200 nominations from outstanding individuals offering to serve on this important body.  The non-federal membership will represent mental health researchers, providers, patients, families, judges, law enforcement officers, and other professionals working with individuals living with serious mental illness.  The following national experts were selected to serve three-year terms:

  • Linda S. Beeber, Ph.D., PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Nursing;
  • Ron Bruno, Founding Board Member and Second Vice President, CIT International;
  • Clayton Chau,  M.D., Ph.D., Regional Executive Medical Director, Institute for Mental Health and Wellness at St. Joseph-Hoag Health;
  • David Covington, LPC, MBA, CEO/President, RI International;
  • Maryann Davis, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical Center;
  • Pete Earley, Author;
  • Paul Emrich, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Family and Mental Health Chickasaw Nation;
  • Mary Giliberti, J.D., Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance for Mental Illness, National Alliance on Mental Illness;
  • Elena Kravitz, Peer Support Provider and Manager, Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey;
  • Kenneth Minkoff, M.D., Zia Partners;
  • Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law, Legal Scholar, University of Southern California Gould School of Law;
  • John Snook, Esq., Executive Director/Attorney, Treatment Advocacy Center;
  • Rhathelia Stroud, J.D., Presiding Judge, DeKalb County Magistrate Court; and
  • Conni Wells, Owner/Manager, Axis Group, LLC.

The ISMICC will report on advances in research on serious mental illness among adults and serious emotional disturbance among children and on federal outcomes related to measures of suicide, drug overdoses, emergency hospitalizations, criminal justice involvement, homelessness, unemployment, and other issues.  The ISMICC also will recommend actions that federal agencies can take to better coordinate the administration of mental health services for adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbance.

The ISMICC will hold its first meeting on August 31, 2017, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington DC. Public access to the meeting will available by webcast (http://www.hhs.gov/live) and phone (see the link on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website below for instructions).  Notice of the meeting appears in the Federal Register and on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website: http://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/advisory-councils/smi-committee

HHS awards nearly $105 million to improve health center quality

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 09:41

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that nearly $105 million has been awarded to 1,333 health centers in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia as an investment in quality improvement, building upon their 2016 achievements. Health centers will use these funds to further improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the health care delivered to the communities they serve. This announcement comes during Health Center Week, the annual celebration of the high-quality, affordable, primary care health centers have been providing for more than 50 years.

“Americans deserve a healthcare system that’s affordable, accessible, of the highest quality, with ample choices, driven by world-leading innovations, and responsive to the needs of the individual patient,” said Secretary Price. “Supporting health centers across the country helps to achieve that mission.”

Health centers are receiving these funds to continue improving their services based upon high levels of performance in one or more of the following categories: Improving Quality of Care, Increasing Access to Care, Enhancing Delivery of High Value Health Care, Addressing Health Disparities, and Achieving Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition.

“Today’s awards will help health centers to provide their communities with high quality, affordable primary care,” said HRSA Administrator Dr. George Sigounas. “Quality care remains a critical trait of the Health Center Program, especially because health centers are treating more patients than ever before.”

HRSA also released new data compiled from health centers through its Uniform Data System (UDS) reporting, providing an update on the primary care services being provided to patients. In 2016, nearly 26 million people (approximately 1 in 12 U.S. residents) relied on a HRSA-funded health center for affordable, accessible primary health care including:

  • One in three people living in poverty;
  • One in ten U.S. children 17 years or younger;
  • One in six U.S. rural residents; and
  • More than 330,000 U.S. veterans.

For more than 50 years, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary health care services to patients. Today, nearly 1,400 health centers operate more than 10,400 service delivery sites nationwide.

For a list of FY 2017 Quality Improvement Awards recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/qualityimprovement/index.html

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about

To find a health center in your area, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov

HHS Secretary Statement on President Trump’s Opioid Announcement Today

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 04:54

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s instruction to his Administration to use all appropriate authority to respond to the nation’s opioid emergency:

"President Trump is taking strong, decisive action in directing the Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic. Today’s announcement demonstrates our sense of urgency to fight the scourge of addiction that is affecting all corners of this country.

"Traveling the country, we have seen firsthand the devastation this crisis is inflicting on individuals, families, and communities. President Trump’s announcement further punctuates his clear commitment to combating this epidemic and I thank him for his leadership."

Ignite Accelerator announces 14 teams selected for the seventh round of the internal innovation training program

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 02:17

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer’s HHS IDEA Lab has announced the seventh cohort of teams selected for the HHS Ignite Accelerator.  The HHS Ignite Accelerator is a program that spurs innovative problem-solving across the Department by encouraging and enabling HHS staff (at all levels) to experiment with novel means for addressing key Departmental challenges.

HHS Ignite teams in past cohorts have successfully innovated in a variety of mission-critical spaces including projects to: improve patient wait times in Indian Health Service clinics; publish NIH’s vast store of biomedical 3D print files to the nation’s researchers and clinicians; and create local alert networks to prevent opioid overdoses.

Beginning with a three-day boot camp at HHS headquarters in Washington, DC the 14 newest teams represents the Department’s various Agencies and Operation Divisions. Bruce D. Greenstein, HHS Chief Technology Officer, said this of the incoming HHS Ignite cohort, “This program affords the best stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars by testing and validating before fully deploying otherwise costly, unnecessary solutions.”

Will Yang, Co-Director of HHS Ignite, notes, “It is immensely gratifying to work with colleagues who have the burning desire to make changes in how their groups achieve important objectives; it’s better yet to see their early concepts validated by the themes identified during the Department’s broad strategy sessions.”

During the program, the teams will leap forward through entrepreneurial methods and build innovative solutions. NIH team lead of ACTIV Collaborative Business Development project, Tim Hsiao states, "We're excited to join HHS Ignite and test our idea and validate demand before we deploy it." Hsiao and team will build a solution that bridges corporate partnerships with NIH awardees that exist outside of the major biotech hubs yielding even more translational science.

Beyond identifying notional solutions, participants will learn how to validate and communicate the value of a new concept while deciding whether to secure additional resources to further test or implement.

Kevin McTigue, Co-Director of HHS Ignite, states, “The next cohort of Ignite teams are innovative teams hoping to address a number of critical challenges, many of which were defined during the focal ‘Reimagine HHS’ workshops.”

Leading one of the newest HHS Ignite teams, the Smokefree.gov Personal Assistant project, HHS public affairs’ digital engagement specialist, Coqui Aspiazu said, “We're so excited to participate in Ignite and want to use this opportunity to test and explore artificial intelligence.” Aspiazu and team aim to use artificial intelligence (AI) to positively influence smoking cessation.

Using the HHS Ignite program to test a technology that has far-reaching implications, Aspiazu’s team has leveraged the HHS Ignite platform to combine efforts with her new teammates at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) -- she continues, “Teaming up with NCI Smokefree.gov has already been rewarding. They have a successful track record of implementing evidence-based tools and we at [Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs’] ASPA Digital look forward to leveraging this experience to help others at HHS engage with the American public on a behavior change campaign.”

For this round, the program received 80 applications from teams across HHS, which were reviewed by a group of 18 judging panelists, the majority of whom were former HHS Ignite participants. Out of the 80 applicants, 30 teams were invited to interview, and the final 14 teams were selected by the program administrators, the Executive Director of Innovation, Sanjay Koyani, and Chief Technology Officer, Bruce D. Greenstein.

The invitees for the upcoming seventh round of HHS Ignite Accelerator are as follows:

To learn more about how the teams were selected and to learn more about the projects, visit www.hhs.gov/idealab

  1. Stop, Collaborate, and Listen!
    Team Lead: Tiffany Pryce, Administration for Children and Families
  2. Streamlining Poverty Programs
    Team Lead: Erica Fleishcher, Administration for Children and Families
  3. A Novel Rapid Reporting & Response Tool to Prevent Opioid Overdose
    Team Lead: Aleta Christensen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  4. Building Advanced Molecular Capacity in Global Laboratories
    Team Lead: Rachel Marine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  5. Preparing the U.S. Workforce for an Airborne Pandemic
    Team Lead: Lew Radonovich, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  6. From Benchtop to Kitchen Tabletop, Helping Medicare Beneficiaries Access Laboratory Diagnostics
    Team Lead: Katherine B. Szarama, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  7. An Integrated Health Solutions Tool: Exploring the Intersection of Hospital Readmissions and Social Determinants of Health among People with Sickle Cell Disease
    Team Lead: Shondelle Wilson-Frederick, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  8. Show me the Money
    Team Lead: Ken Ambrose, Health Resources and Service Administration
  9. Developing and Recruiting Physicians for IHS Careers
    Team Lead: Paul Jung, Indian Health Service
  10. Real-time Sepsis Screening and Provider Notification Using the Electronic Health Record
    Team Lead: Nathan Moyer, Indian Health Service
  11. ACTIV Collaborative Business Development
    Team Lead: Timothy Hsiao, National Institutes of Health
  12. Adaptation of Agile Methodologies to Rare Diseases Drug Development
    Team Lead: Anne Pariser, National Institutes of Health
  13. Develop your B.R.E.E.D.! (Breeding Rodents Efficiently & Effortlessly by Design)
    Team Lead: Francois Vautier, National Institutes of Health
  14. Smokefree.gov Personal Assistant
    Team Lead: Coqui Aspiazu, Office of the Secretary, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

HHS Secretary Statement on FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 16:18

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement on the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017:

“Congress is to be commended for passing the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017. This bill is a vital first step to accomplishing our goal of expanding access to affordable, life-saving drugs and medical devices in a thoughtful manner that protects taxpayer resources, promotes competition, improves healthcare outcomes, and stimulates scientific innovation and medical advances. We welcome this progress.  To accomplish this goal more fully for the American people, more work remains to be done. Together with FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, we will continue to work with Congress to ensure that FDA remains the gold standard in advancing medical breakthroughs that will improve the health and well-being of the American people.”

HHS Secretary Price Statement on Lower Drug Costs for Seniors

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:52

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., released the following statement after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that Medicare Part D premiums are projected to decline for our nation’s seniors in 2018:

“For the first time in five years, the average premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is projected to decline in 2018. This is encouraging news for the nearly 43 million seniors who are enrolled in the program. Lowering drug costs is a key principle of President Trump’s efforts to address the challenges in our healthcare system, and HHS is committed to doing all we can to increase the affordability and accessibility of care.

“Reflecting President Trump’s commitment to this issue, HHS has begun a broad effort to make drugs more affordable – particularly for America’s seniors. This announcement by CMS comes on the heels of a proposal released last month that would allow seniors to share in the discounted drug prices hospitals are already getting under Medicare.”

For more details, see materials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services here.

HHS Awards $3.2 Million for a Registry of Residents Affected by Lead Exposure in Flint, Michigan

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 14:40

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Michigan State University (MSU) will receive approximately $3.2 million to establish a registry of Flint residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water from the Flint Water System during 2014-2015. The funds are the first installment of a 4-year, $14.4 million grant.

MSU will use the funds in partnership with the City of Flint leadership and other community organizations, clinical partners and educators, and stakeholders that serve Flint residents. They will address community health concerns related to lead exposures, monitor health outcomes among registrants, and expand efforts to reduce and eliminate lead in the community.

“This funding is a continuation of the Trump Administration’s commitment to support the affected or at-risk residents of Flint, Michigan, who have been exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Flint residents will benefit from having their health monitored over time and from being readily connected to services that will help reduce the health effects of lead exposure. Information collected by the registry will guide important health decisions and recommendations for the City of Flint and the State of Michigan for years to come.”

Lead exposures are a well-known hazard for adults. In children, lead exposure can result in serious effects on IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The Flint registry will link registrants’ data on exposure, health, and key childhood developmental milestones with their participation in services through a voluntary referral network.

“CDC is committed to supporting the Flint Lead Exposure Registry as part of our ongoing efforts across the country to reduce and prevent exposure to lead,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., CDC director and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “Using our experience with the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program, we will work hard to make sure that the Registry meets the needs of Flint residents affected by this crisis.”

Tracking both children and adults will be extremely valuable in providing important health impacts from exposure and the impact of community services on recovery. This joint effort will evaluate the effectiveness of available health, educational, environmental, and community services on improving the health of participants.

“The registry will be a powerful tool to understand, measure, and improve the lives of those exposed to the contaminated water,” said Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., director of the MSU-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, who will lead the registry effort. “The more people who participate in the registry, the more powerful this tool will be for Flint and for communities everywhere that continue to suffer from preventable lead exposure.”

In January 2017, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality stated that the lead levels in city water tested below federal limits, but recommends that residents use filtered or bottled water for drinking or cooking while pipe replacements continue.

The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act authorized funding for the registry, which will collect baseline and follow-up information from eligible residents.

For more information about CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/.

Secretary Price Statement on FDA’s Announcement of New Regulatory Plan to Address Tobacco and Nicotine

Sat, 07/29/2017 - 02:48

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement of a comprehensive regulatory plan to address tobacco and nicotine use:

“FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and his team have announced a common sense, balanced approach to tobacco and nicotine regulation. Protecting and improving public health, especially our children’s health, is a core mission of HHS. We commend Dr. Gottlieb today as he works to protect our nation's health."

Read more about FDA’s announcement here.

Healthcare Vote Statement

Sat, 07/29/2017 - 02:48

The statement below is from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. in response to today’s Senate vote: 

“It is the mission of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to enhance the health and protect the well-being of all Americans, and our Department is wholly committed to this mission. Since day one of the Trump Administration, the team at HHS has taken numerous steps to provide relief to Americans who are reeling from the status quo, and this effort will continue.

“The Trump Administration remains committed to improving our healthcare system so that it better serves the American people. It is our goal to foster a successful, patient-centered healthcare system where Americans have more choices and lower costs, where patients, families and doctors are in charge of medical decisions, and where Washington’s interests take a backseat to patients’ needs.”

Secretary Price Statement on Senate Healthcare Vote

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 21:24

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement after the Senate voted to proceed with debate on healthcare reform:

“The Senate took an important step today toward providing Americans relief from a flawed and failing healthcare law. This will be an important debate about how best to move forward and reform our healthcare system so that patients, families, and doctors are in charge of their healthcare decisions, not Washington D.C.”

HHS Unveils Improved Web Tool to Highlight Recent Breaches of Health Information

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 21:24

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today launched a revised web tool that puts important information into the hands of individuals, empowering them to better identify recent breaches of health information and to learn how all breaches of health information are investigated and successfully resolved.  The HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool (HBRT) features improved navigation for both those looking for information on breaches and ease-of-use for organizations reporting incidents.  The tool also helps educate industry on the types of breaches that are occurring, industry-wide or within particular sectors, and how breaches are commonly resolved following investigations launched by OCR, which can help industry improve the security posture of their organizations.

“HHS heard from the public that we needed to focus more on the most recent breaches and clarify when entities have taken action to resolve the issues that might have led to their breaches,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D.  “To that end, we have taken steps to make this website, which features only larger breaches, a more positive, relevant source of information for concerned consumers.”

HHS OCR originally released the HBRT in 2009, as required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HRBT makes available to the public information that  entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) report to OCR when they are involved in breaches of unsecured protected health information of 500 or more individuals.  The tool includes: the name of the entity; state where the entity is located; number of individuals affected by the breach; the date of the breach; type of breach (e.g., hacking/IT incident, theft, loss, unauthorized access/disclosure); and location of the breached information (e.g., laptop, paper records, desktop computer).

HIPAA also requires the covered entity to promptly notify affected individuals of a breach, and, in some cases, notify the media.

“The HBRT provides health care organizations and consumers with the ability to more easily review breaches reported to OCR,” said Roger Severino, Director of OCR.  “Furthermore, greater access to timely information strengthens consumer trust and transparency – qualities central to the Administration’s focus on a more innovative and effective government.”

New features of the HBRT include:

  • Enhanced functionality that highlights breaches currently under investigation and reported within the last 24 months;
  • New archive that includes all older breaches and information about how breaches were resolved;
  • Improved navigation to additional breach information; and
  • Tips for consumers.

HHS plans on expanding and improving the site over time to add functionality and features based on feedback.  The HBRT provides transparency to the public and organizations covered by HIPAA and helps highlight the importance of safeguards to protect the privacy and security of sensitive health care information.

The HBRT may be found at:  https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf.  For additional information on HIPAA breach notification, visit:  https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/breach-notification

HHS Awards 16 Grants to Prevent Opioid Misuse among Women and Girls

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 21:24

As part of the Administration’s efforts to combat drug addiction and the opioid epidemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) today announced 16 awards to public and private nonprofit entities across the nation. Sixteen projects covering 16 cities in 12 states were selected to address the primary and/or secondary prevention of prescription and illegal opioid misuse by women across the lifespan. Funds will be used to reach girls aged 10-17 years, women of reproductive age, and women aged 50 years and older in underserved populations.

“As part of a nationwide listening tour, I’ve heard from folks around this nation how opioid misuse takes a heavy toll on the quality of life and life expectancy of women,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “President Trump and HHS are committed to working with those on the front lines of this national crisis to find innovative ways to help women and girls most at risk. These awards are an opportunity for us to work together and implement successful strategies to reduce opioid dependence and prevent opioid related deaths among women and all Americans.”

Last month a report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations involving opioid pain relievers and heroin increased 75 percent for women between 2005 and 2014, compared to a 55 percent increase among men. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription pain killers increased 218 percent in men, while for women it increased over 471 percent. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among men increased 50 percent, compared to 100 percent in women.

“There is emerging knowledge about the many factors affecting opioid use and misuse by women, including biological, demographic and social factors,” said Vanila Singh, M.D., chief medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. “These awards will build partnerships among community-based organizations that consider the unique needs of women and girls; with the ultimate goal of preventing and reducing the impact of the opioid epidemic.”

The organizations each receiving awards of approximately $100,000 are:

  • Volunteers of America of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases, Oakland, California
  • Community Clinics Health Network, San Diego, California
  • The Wheeler Clinic Inc., Plainville, Connecticut
  • Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Inc., Jacksonville, Florida
  • Parent Child Center Community Wellness Center, Oak Park, Illinois
  • Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Capitol Area Human Services District, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Western Maryland Area Health Education Center, Cumberland, Maryland
  • Institute for Health and Recovery Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Middlesex, East Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, New Jersey
  • Cardea Services, Austin, Texas
  • The Lakes Community Health Center, Inc., Iron River, Wisconsin
  • City of Janesville, Janesville, Wisconsin

In addition to the grant awards, OWH also recently issued a report that examined the impact of the opioid epidemic on women and highlighted promising practices that address their specific needs.

For additional information on the HHS Secretary's Initiative aimed at reducing prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, deaths, and dependence, visit: www.hhs.gov/opioids.

For additional information on OWH’s programs and initiatives visit: www.womenshealth.gov.

Secretary Price: “The status quo is not acceptable or sustainable”

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 05:50

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement regarding ongoing efforts to provide Americans with relief from Obamacare:

“Obamacare is flawed, failing, and harming the American people with higher costs and fewer healthcare choices. The Trump Administration is, and always will be, focused on putting patients, families, and doctors in charge of healthcare.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has already begun providing relief to Americans who are paying more and getting less as a result of Obamacare’s broken promises. We will continue to build upon this progress as Congress debates the best path forward to fix our broken healthcare system.

“The status quo is not acceptable or sustainable. We will work tirelessly to get Washington out of the way, bring down the cost of coverage, expand healthcare choices, and strengthen the safety net for future generations.”

Click here to visit hhs.gov/relief where you can learn more about HHS actions to lower premiums and protect patients. This site highlights the regulatory and administrative actions the Department is taking to relieve the burden of the current healthcare law and support a patient-centered healthcare system.

HHS Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma Address the Summer 2017 National Governors Association Meeting "The Future of Health Care"

Sun, 07/16/2017 - 02:17

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., and Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services addressed the future of healthcare at a meeting with governors at the Summer 2017 National Governors Association Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D.

Full Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

[Excerpts]

"Under President Trump’s leadership—and following his vision for a reformed and renewed federal government—at HHS and across the Administration we are eagerly embarking on a new era of partnership and collaboration with America’s 50 states. And we believe that the basis for a successful federal-state relationship ought to be open and frequent dialogue. 

“So, I’m pleased to be here, not only to talk to you about what’s going on at HHS, but more importantly to listen to—and to learn from—all of you. And you couldn't have picked a more important topic for this morning's conversation—“The Future of Health Care” in America. 

“I say that not because of what’s going on in Congress right now, but because—if you think about it—every time we talk about healthcare we’re talking about its future. In fact, every policy debate—whether we’re talking about healthcare or anything else—is invariably a debate about the future…”

“If someone had told the American people ten or twenty years ago that one of the first priorities of a new president would be setting up a panel on drug addiction and something called the opioid crisis, I think most would have been pretty confused.

“And yet here we are, with opioids being a pressing issue for nearly everyone in this room...States have led the dynamic response to a problem that most never dreamed would get this large or pressing…Of course, there is an important federal role here, too. We have defined five strategies for fighting the opioid epidemic:

  • Improving access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services, including the full range of medication-assisted treatment
  • Targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; 
  • Strengthening timely public health data and reporting; 
  • Supporting cutting-edge research on pain and addiction; and 
  • Advancing the practice of pain management.

“…The opioid crisis and our response to it thus far is a useful case study that ought to inform how we think about the future of healthcare in America, because we aren’t winning that battle—not yet. 

“States have responded aggressively, and Congress has belatedly taken action too. But we need to aim higher—we need to aim for more fruitful federal-state partnerships, more aggressive action on opioids, new approaches to everything from health insurance access to figuring out how to bring down the costs of medicines. 

"As some of you may or may not know, the NGA was founded to address a particular cross-border problem from the state level: the management of inland waterways. 

“You can think of the ever-changing nature of healthcare like a waterway: rivers never stay the same. Their banks, their currents, their level of flow are always shifting. Sometimes it’s imperceptible, but it ends up having huge effects.

“This is how we ought to look at the future of healthcare, and how to get it right: There are constant shifts, some we can see, some we cannot. The only way to address that is to have the most collaborative relationship possible between the federal government, states, and our private-sector and civil-society partners, and to empower those closest to the challenges we face. We look forward to making that a reality under this Administration.”

 CMS Administrator Seema Verma

Full Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

[Excerpts]

“…The Secretary is absolutely right that our healthcare laws and programs need to be able to adapt to the dynamic nature of medicine. And he’s absolutely right that this means we need to empower states with the flexibility and authority they need to create the kinds of policies that meet the unique health needs of their citizens.”

"…So now that I have the privilege of serving as CMS Administrator, my goal is to focus the Agency on offering you more flexibility, so that America’s governors come to see CMS as an ally rather than an adversary.

“That’s why one of the first things we did earlier this year was send a letter to the governors of all 50 states encouraging them to use State Innovation Waivers under Section 1332 of the ACA to develop new, innovative policies tailor made to meet the unique healthcare needs of their citizens. Then, in May, we released a checklist that helps simplify the process for states that are interested in applying for a State Innovation Waiver.

“So far, we’ve been very encouraged by the response. It is clear that many governors are eager to break free from some of the most restrictive federal healthcare regulations and come up with their own solutions that they know will help improve health outcomes for their citizens…”

“In addition, at CMS we are starting a major deregulation initiative that will make it easier for healthcare providers and states to spend more time and resources focusing on delivering high-quality care, and less time and resources trying to comply with complex regulations that don’t meaningfully improve care, quality, or safety.

“We have also been working with members of the Senate to outline new options for states to reimagine coverage in ways that allow Medicaid to work in tandem with tax credits available under BCRA, so that low-income Americans have access to high-quality, affordable coverage.

“Unfortunately, the data I understand was presented to this group does not consider the full-range of funding opportunities available under BCRA, including tax credits, the stability fund, and opioid funding, as well as federal dollars available through the Medicaid.  I take significant issue with this information. 

"BCRA also gives states unique opportunities for states to design systems that ensure their citizens have access to affordable, high-quality coverage.  As everyone in this room well knows, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem. Working with governors and state officials to create programs that address the unique needs of their citizens in a sustainable way has long been a passion of mine, and as CMS Administrator I look forward to continuing that work with all of you well into the future.

“As Dr. Price mentioned, the basis of any fruitful federal-state partnership must be open and honest dialogue, so with that let’s start the conversation. I look forward to answering your questions and hearing your ideas about how we can make healthcare better for your citizens. Thank you.”

HHS announces $80.8 million in grants for Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts, and Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 00:50

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announces funding of up to $80.8 million over a period of three to five years for treatment drug court programs for people who are involved in the criminal justice system with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Treatment drug courts combine the sanctioning power of courts with effective treatment services to reduce further criminal justice involvement and promote recovery for people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.  By reducing the health and social costs of substance use disorders for individuals, treatment drug courts improve public safety in communities.

“One of the five key strategies the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified for fighting America’s opioid epidemic is expanding access to treatment and recovery services, including the full range of medication-assisted treatments. Drug courts can play an important role in connecting Americans to treatment when they need it,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “As HHS has carried out a national listening tour on the opioid epidemic—one of our top three clinical priorities—we have heard from many Americans finding recovery through drug courts, and we are pleased to support such work.”

“Providing needed treatment services for people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders who are involved with the criminal justice system benefits everyone,” said Dr. Kim Johnson, director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.  “Treatment drug courts improve health and recovery outcomes, reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, and help people recover in their communities.”

The grant programs included in this SAMHSA effort are:

Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Adult Treatment Drug Court and Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

The purpose of this program is to expand and/or enhance substance use disorder treatment services in existing adult problem solving courts, and adult Tribal Healing to Wellness courts, which use the treatment drug court model in order to provide alcohol and drug treatment (including recovery support services, screening, assessment, case management, and program coordination) to defendants/offenders.

Forty-four recipients will receive up to $17.8 million per year for up to three years.

List of grantees

Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Family Treatment Drug Courts

The purpose of this program is to expand and/or enhance substance use disorder treatment services in existing family treatment drug courts, which use the family treatment drug court model in order to provide alcohol and drug treatment (including recovery support services, screening, assessment, case management, and program coordination) to parents with a substance use disorder and/or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders who have had a dependency petition filed against them or are at risk of such filing.

Twenty recipients will receive up to $8.2 million per year for up to five years.

List of grantees

The actual award amounts may vary, depending on the availability of funds.

Information on SAMHSA grants in available at:  http://www.samhsa.gov/grants.

For general information about SAMHSA please visit:  http://www.samhsa.gov

 

HHS Secretary Price: Trump Administration Is Taking Action on Drug Prices

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 22:44

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. released the following statement regarding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ announcement of proposed reimbursement changes to the 340B drug discount program for Medicare and our nation’s seniors:

“Today’s announcement is a significant step toward fulfilling President Trump’s promise to address rising drug prices.  We are proud to be working to ensure the Medicare program provides the drugs seniors need at a price they can afford.

“This proposal has the potential to reduce drug costs for seniors, by at least an estimated $180 million per year.  If it is adopted, Medicare would pay hospitals for drugs purchased through the 340B discount program at a price more consistent with the actual cost hospitals and other providers pay to acquire those drugs.  Seniors would see those savings passed on to them in the form of lower copays.

“The Medicare proposal is just one step in many efforts underway across HHS to address pricing and availability of drugs.  Today’s proposed Medicare payment rule also includes other measures to help put patients first, part of a broader effort we are undertaking at HHS.”

For more details, see materials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services here.

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