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HHS News Releases
Updated: 15 hours 39 min ago

Secretary Price declares public health emergency in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria

September 19, 2017

Following President Trump’s emergency declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Maria approaches the U.S. territories. The declaration allowed the secretary to issue a waiver under section 1135 of the Social Security Act for these areas 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 emergency health needs.

“Hurricane Maria currently poses a significant threat to the public health and safety of those living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Secretary Price, M.D. “In preparation, HHS is mobilizing assets and readying personnel and supplies to help those in the path of the storm. Declaring a public health emergency for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will aid in the department’s response capabilities – particularly as it relates to ensuring that individuals and families in those territories with Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) maintain access to care.”

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to September 16 for the U.S. Virgin Islands and to September 17 for Puerto Rico.

HHS is making preparations in advance to support Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in responding to Hurricane Maria. HHS has more than 120 personnel deployed in Puerto Rico, including staff from National Disaster Medical System personnel, an Incident Response Coordination Team from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and an environmental health team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The experts are ready to provide medical care and public health support as needed after Hurricane Maria makes landfall. Additional medical and public health teams are ready to be called in as 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 storm 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.

The Food and Drug Administration is actively sharing important information on food, medicine, and device safety in English and Spanish.

The Health Resources and Services Administration is monitoring twenty health center grantees, that operate more than 90 service delivery sites, where more than 350,000 patients in Puerto Rico received care in 2016.

HHS remains in regular contact with Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands health officials to maintain awareness of the local situation and stands ready to augment its support to the territory as the situation unfolds.

HHS is committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricane Maria in the immediate aftermath of the storm and as affected areas recover. Information on health safety tips during and after the hurricane will be provided by the Office of the Assistance Secretary for Preparedness and Response and will be available at www.phe.gov/emergency

Critical updates will also be available at:

Readout of Secretary Price and ASPR’s Visit to Florida-Based Medical Support Teams

September 19, 2017

On Monday, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., traveled to Florida as part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma. Along with HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D., Secretary Price visited the HHS National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps teams that are serving as part of the federal response in Florida.

First, Secretary Price met with Florida Governor Rick Scott and local officials at the Marathon Emergency Operations Center to discuss the current state of the Florida Keys, as well as the recovery efforts on the ground. During the meeting, Secretary Price and Governor Scott discussed the cooperation between the state, local communities and HHS operations. Secretary Price highlighted the seamless coordination HHS has experienced working with the state of Florida. This cooperation is aided by President Trump’s early emergency declaration, which allowed HHS to prepare ahead of the storm.

Dr. Kadlec provided additional details related to deployed assets and how his office, through its emPower initiative, quickly shared information with local first responders about Medicare beneficiaries whose lives depend on electrically powered medical equipment at home or on dialysis. Secretary Price underscored that, because of the President’s rapid action, HHS was able to lean in early to both prepare for, and respond to, the impact of Hurricane Irma by:

  • Deploying medical assets, including members of the Public Health Service, the NDMS, and mobile medical units;
  • Providing data and expertise to first responders and local officials;
  • Issuing waivers for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to enable individuals to get the care they need; and
  • Supplying recovery assistance to address ongoing public health, healthcare, and human services issues that arise from an emergency.

Next, Secretary Price, Dr. Kadlec, and Governor Scott toured an NDMS temporary medical site set up in the parking lot behind Marathon City Hall. There they met with the NDMS teams comprised of medical professionals from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire who have treated nearly 200 patients over the past week. Secretary Price, Dr. Kadlec, and Governor Scott saw the NDMS team in action as members triaged and cared for patients and provided mental health support.

Secretary Price and Dr. Kadlec traveled to Florida International University (FIU) in Miami to visit a special needs shelter operated by the state and staffed in part by the Commissioned Corps. There, they met with FIU President Mark Rosenberg to learn how FIU has been serving its local community by housing medical responders, including the Commissioned Corps, and patients in need. The FIU shelter has accommodated people with chronic illness, those who require a caretaker, and those with unique mental health needs. Secretary Price and Dr. Kadlec toured the shelter and met with 25 patients who told them that the Commissioned Corps health professionals not only provided exceptional care, but also gave them hope for life after Hurricane Irma. 

HHS personnel have now cared for approximately 2,300 patients, equally split between the mainland and the islands. The Trump Administration and HHS remain committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeastern U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricane Irma. This visit will further support ongoing federal and state response and recover efforts.

HHS partners to develop first intranasal treatment for cyanide poisoning

September 18, 2017

The first intranasal (nose spray) treatment for the life-threatening effects of cyanide poisoning will be developed under an agreement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Emergent BioSolutions of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Cyanide could be used as a chemical weapon against the United States.

“Cyanide is easily obtained, and exposure to high levels of the chemical can cause death within minutes,” explained Rick Bright, Ph.D., director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of ASPR. “All currently approved cyanide antidotes are administered intravenously, which takes time, training, and medical resources. To save lives, first responders need a treatment they can administer easily within seconds in the field.”

Under the 17-month, $12.7 million agreement announced today, Emergent will develop an intranasal, stabilized form of Isoamyl Nitrite. Amyl Nitrite traditionally has been used to treat angina pectoris, severe chest pain caused by an inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Studies have shown Amyl Nitrite to be an effective treatment for cyanide poisoning, although the drug is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for this use. The company will develop a reformulated active ingredient, isoamyl nitrite, along with an intranasal delivery device, with the goal of gaining FDA approval. The contract can be extended up to a total of approximately $63 million over 5 years.

As a BARDA partner, Emergent will conduct nonclinical and clinical safety and efficacy studies; manufacturing activities; all associated regulatory, quality assurance, management work, and administrative activities necessary prior to the initiation of a Phase 3 (large) clinical study.

Development of this new drug is part of BARDA’s efforts to develop medical products and procedures to protect health and save lives in terrorist attacks, including those using chemical warfare agents like cyanide. Cyanide was used in World War I as a chemical weapon, in World War II concentration camps, and most recently this past spring in the Syrian Civil War.

These treatments are among the post-exposure treatments and non-pharmaceutical interventions BARDA and its private partners are developing to counter the health effects of chemical exposure. Products include novel and repurposed therapeutics, and decontamination for treatment of exposure to any of four classes of chemical agents.

BARDA continues to seek proposals for the development of effective products to treat injuries caused by chemical agents, including new products and new indications for products already in clinical use. The products must be easy to use in a mass casualty situation and safe and effective for all segments of the population. Proposals are accepted through the Broad Agency Announcement BARDA-CBRN-BAA-16-100-SOL-00001 at the Federal Business Opportunities website, www.fbo.gov.

The project announced today is part of BARDA’s integrated portfolio for the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases.

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.

To learn more about preparedness, response and recovery from the health impacts of disasters, visit the HHS public health and medical emergency website, www.phe.gov. For more information about advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, visit www.medicalcountermeasures.gov.

HHS activates program to reimburse hospitals caring for patients evacuated following Hurricane Irma

September 17, 2017

As part of the Trump Administration’s government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) activated a program to help hospitals and medical facilities providing care to people affected by Irma. This is the first time HHS has activated the program in response to a natural disaster since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010.

The program, called the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Definitive Care Reimbursement Program, reimburses medical facilities and hospitals for the definitive medical care costs of patients medically evacuated following disasters. These patients are directed to NDMS-designated hospitals and medical facilities and tracked through Federal Coordinating Centers managed by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.

“Hurricane Irma significantly affected access to medical care in the areas hardest hit by the storm, and patients who need care in these impacted areas must rely on facilities in areas spared by the storm,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “We are activating NDMS’ Definitive Care Reimbursement Program to ensure that the medical facilities and hospitals accepting these patients will be reimbursed for the vital care they are providing.”

The program, overseen by HHS ASPR, covers medical care provided to people who are injured or became ill as a result of natural disasters if medical care is no longer available in their local area after the disaster. Covered services include medically necessary hospital care, which can extend beyond the typical 30-day stay, as well as home care, rehabilitation, physical therapy and primary care.

Approximately 85 patients will be covered under the NDMS definitive care program in eligible medical facilities in Puerto Rico. These patients were medically evacuated to Puerto Rico from the U.S. Virgin Islands utilizing resources available through the U.S. Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s national ambulance contract.

Facilities receive reimbursement up to 110 percent of the Medicare rate for participating in the program or a comparable rate if the Medicare rate is unavailable. The facilities must make available up to 25 beds for NDMS patients. More than 1,900 hospitals across the country participate in NDMS’ Definitive Care Reimbursement Program.

In addition to the definitive care program, NDMS provides medical professional who can assist state and local medical professionals in impacted areas. Approximately 5,000 medical, public health, and emergency management professionals comprise the NDMS and are organized into more than 70 response teams. They hail from communities nationwide and serve as intermittent federal government employees in a coordinated federal response.

HHS remains committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeast impacted by Hurricane Irma. Health tips for clean up after the hurricane are available at www.phe.gov/irma.

Critical updates also are available at:

About ASPR:

ASPR leads the nation in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters. The HHS division focuses on preparedness planning and response; building federal emergency medical operational capabilities; countermeasures research, advance development, and procurement; and grants to strengthen the capabilities of hospitals and health care systems in public health emergencies and medical disasters.

HHS commits $144.1 million in additional funding for opioid crisis

September 15, 2017

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded an additional $144.1 million in grants to prevent and treat opioid addiction in support of President Trump’s commitment to combat the opioid crisis. The grants will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Those supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in our local communities are heroes in our nation’s battle against the opioid crisis,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “On our nationwide listening tour, we have heard how critical federal resources can empower their efforts to meet the challenges of substance abuse and addiction, especially with the opioid crisis. These grants will help expand treatment and recovery services to pregnant and postpartum women who are struggling with substance abuse, train our first responders to effectively use overdose reversing drugs, improve access to medication-assisted treatment, and increase long term recovery services. Together, we can heal communities and save lives.”

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016 an estimated 11.8 million people misused opioids in the past year, including prescription pain relievers and heroin.  Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2016 suggests the number of drug overdose deaths, most of them due to opioids will likely top 60,000.

“Opioid use disorders continue to plague our nation,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “These funds will support and expand prevention, treatment and recovery services in America’s communities.” 

The first four of the six grant programs listed below were authorized in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, (P.L. 114-198). CARA authorized funding to fight the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, recovery, overdose reversal, and other efforts. The fifth grant program listed, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), received an increase in funding for opioids in the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

SAMHSA is issuing the funding through the six grant programs listed below in the following amounts:

  • First Responders – Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act - $44.7 million. The purpose of this program is to provide training and medication for emergency treatment of opioid overdose. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/SP-17-005
  • State Pilot Grant for Treatment of Pregnant and Postpartum Women - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act - $9.8 million. The purpose of the program is to support family-based services for pregnant and postpartum women with a primary diagnosis of a substance use disorder, including opioid use disorders. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/TI-17-016
  • Building Communities of Recovery - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act - $4.6 million. The purpose of this program is to increase the availability of long-term recovery support for substance abuse and addiction. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/TI-17-015
  • Improving Access to Overdose Treatment - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act - $1 million. The purpose of this program is to expand access to FDA-approved drugs or devices for emergency treatment of opioid overdose. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/SP-17-006
  • Targeted Capacity Expansion:  Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) – Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction - $35 million. The purpose of this program is to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for persons with an opioid use disorder seeking treatment. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/TI-17-017
  • Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women - $49 million. The purpose of this program is to expand services for women and their children in residential substance abuse treatment facilities, among other services. https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2017/TI-17-007

The funding will be distributed to 58 recipients, including states, cities, healthcare providers and community organizations. The funds will be awarded for three to five years, subject to availability and depending on the program.

Earlier this year, HHS Secretary Price outlined five strategies to provide the Department with a comprehensive framework to combat the ongoing opioid crisis: improving access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services, including the full range of MAT; targeting the availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; strengthening public health data and reporting; supporting cutting-edge research on pain and addiction; and advancing the practice of pain management.

These awards follow a separate award of $485 million in grants in April 2017 – provided by the 21st Century Cures Act – to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the free associated states of Palau and Micronesia by SAMHSA for opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. 

 

HRSA awards $200 million to health centers nationwide to tackle mental health and fight the opioid overdose crisis

September 14, 2017

Today, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded more than $200 million to 1,178 health centers and 13 rural health organizations in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services.

“No corner of our country, from rural areas to urban centers, has escaped the scourge of the opioid crisis,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “The Trump Administration is taking strong, decisive action to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic. These grants from HRSA go directly to local organizations, which are best situated to address substance abuse and mental health issues in their own communities.”

Approximately $200 million will support 1,178 health centers to support expansion and integration of mental health services and substance abuse services. These services focus on the treatment, prevention, and awareness of opioid abuse in the primary care setting by increasing personnel, leveraging health information technology, and providing training.

The expanded funding is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic by:

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services.
  • Targeting use of overdose-reversing drugs.
  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance.
  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.
  • Advancing better practices for pain management.

"Nationally, about half of all care for common mental health conditions happens in the primary care settings," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. "In health centers, where people are often most comfortable, staff with varied expertise have a unique opportunity to provide mental health and substance abuse services to patients who wouldn’t otherwise seek or have access to treatment.”

Rural states are more likely to have higher rates of overdose death, particularly from prescription opioid overdose. To address their unique needs, 496 of the health centers that receive The Access Increases in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (AIMS) awards are located in rural communities.

An additional nearly $3.3 million supports 13 rural health organizations to increase access to treatment and recovery services for opioid abuse under the Rural Health Opioid Program (RHOP) and the Substance Abuse Treatment Telehealth Network Grant Program (SAT -TNGP). The organizations will use these awards to advance evidence-based, opioid use disorder interventions to overcome challenges in rural communities, such as longer emergency response times and lack of access to substance abuse treatment providers.

The new RHOP provides approximately $2.5 million for 10 rural health organizations in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Ohio, and Virginia to help community members struggling with opioid abuse find locally available treatment options and support services through partnerships with local health care providers and other community-based groups.

The SAT –TNGP provides approximately $670,000 for three organizations to use evidence-based, telehealth programs and networks to improve access to substance abuse treatment in rural, frontier and underserved communities.

For more information about the impact of integrating mental health and substance abuse services at the community level, and a list of FY 2017 AIMS award recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/aims/fy2017awards/index.html

To view a list of the RHOP and the SAT –TNGP award recipients, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/press-releases/2017/fy17-rural-opioid-awards.html

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

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

To learn more about the FORHP, visit: https://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/

First HHS medical support team arrives in Florida Keys

September 12, 2017

A National Disaster Medical System team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services became part of the first wave of federal responders transported today into the Florida Keys as part of the Trump Administration's government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma. The team will establish a mobile medical unit and begin providing medical care to assist a local hospital.

National Disaster Medical System personnel from Hawaii loading a US Coast Guard aircraft with equipment and supplies to assist the state of Florida with public health and medical support in the Florida Keys.“The Florida Keys were particularly hard hit in this massive storm, and all current indicators are that the medical infrastructure is damaged and in some cases may be destroyed,” explained HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “Our medical professionals are trained to provide care in austere conditions after disasters, and they’re arriving with the first wave of equipment and supplies they’ll need to help save lives.”

Additional medical personnel could follow at the state’s request. In other areas of Florida, HHS dispatched NDMS and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps teams to assist local healthcare workers in caring for evacuees in six shelters. So far the teams have seen approximately 100 patients.

In addition, HHS medical teams are providing care at a shelter in Puerto Rico and at an overwhelmed hospital emergency department in St. Thomas, and triaging evacuees from multiple islands as they reach Puerto Rico. The teams also embedded with Urban Search and Rescue to find dialysis patients and aided the U.S. Virgin Islands in evacuating these patients to Puerto Rico.

These medical professionals are among the more than 675 personnel HHS deployed to support the emergency response in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The remainder are providing response coordination, supporting emergency operations centers, or available for additional assignments from the states or U.S. territories.

To help the effected states and U.S. territories respond to the health impacts of the storm, HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., signed public health emergency declarations for Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia and South Carolina. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services subsequently provided waivers to health care providers and facilities so that Americans who rely on Medicare, Medicaid or the Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could receive unimpeded care during the crisis. 

HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) employees continue to coordinate with the Department of State and Department of Defense to evacuate American citizens from the island of St. Martin.  The ACF Office of Refugee Resettlement initiated repatriation efforts to ensure that Americans were safely transported back to American soil and out of harm’s way beginning Saturday evening.  A total of 1,694 repatriates have safely touched ground in Puerto Rico and eventually back to the continental United States.

The Disaster Distress Helpline remains activated to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the storm and help people in impacted areas connect with local behavioral health professionals. The helpline can be reached toll-free at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Since Hurricane Irma made landfall, the helpline has assisted more than 170 callers from impacted areas.

HHS also provided data to public health authorities in Florida to assist them in reaching Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electrically powered medical equipment at home. Power outages become life-or-death situations for people with these medical conditions.

The Department remains committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeast impacted by Hurricane Irma. Health tips for clean up after the hurricane are available at www.phe.gov/irma.

Critical updates also are available at:

HHS, DoD rescue dialysis patients from U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma

September 11, 2017

As part of the Trump Administration's government-wide efforts to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma, personnel from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense have begun evacuating dialysis patients from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, due to the extensive damage to the health care infrastructure on St. Thomas. Disruptions in dialysis treatment can become life-threatening within two or three days.

Data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicate that more than 130 American dialysis patients make their home on St. Thomas. For the first time in the department’s history, HHS medical personnel also have embedded with Urban Search and Rescue teams attempting to find patients who did not respond to local authorities’ message about evacuating. These rescue and evacuation operations are complicated by hurricane damage, which brought down telephone lines and cell towers and has made roads impassable.

“People who rely on dialysis are among the most medically vulnerable after natural disasters, and given the extent of the destruction on St. Thomas, we are very concerned about the health and safety of dialysis patients there right now,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, M.D. “Our medical personnel and our agency partners are working as quickly as possible under grueling conditions to assist the territory in its life-saving efforts.”

HHS emergency managers also are working with territory agencies, dialysis facilities and other partners to arrange dialysis services and temporary shelter in San Juan for the evacuated patients. As patients arrive by plane, health care workers from the local dialysis network triage each patient and provide immediate dialysis or transport of the patient to the hospital if additional care is needed. Partners include Department of Defense, FEMA, CMS, the Quality Insights Renal Network 3 of CMS’ End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network Program, and the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Program.

Data to support the evacuation came from the HHS emPOWER initiative and CMS systems. To aid in planning, emPOWER provides public health authorities with the total number of Medicare beneficiaries in a zip code who rely on 14 types of life-maintaining and assistive equipment, ranging from oxygen concentrators to electric wheelchairs, as well as data on the number of people who rely on dialysis, oxygen, and home health services. Specific information can be provided for life-saving efforts in a disaster.

Approximately 100 HHS medical personnel are deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to aid in patient evacuation and to assist USVI doctors and nurses in providing medical care in a hospital emergency department in St. Thomas. Additional medical teams are positioned in Florida and prepared to provide medical care and public health support as needed by the state. As of Sunday morning, approximately 550 personnel were staged in Florida with additional teams and Federal Medical Stations on alert to deploy when and where requested.

National Disaster Medical System personnel from California and Oregon aid in evacuating a dialysis patient from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Puerto Rico for medical care

HHS continues buildup of medical support in Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma landfall

September 10, 2017

As part of the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to prepare for Hurricane Irma, HHS Secretary Tom Price briefed President Trump and the Cabinet this morning on the work of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in anticipation of Hurricane Irma making landfall, including moving more than 500 medical and related personnel into Orlando, Florida, to assist the state with medical and public health needs when Hurricane Irma makes landfall.

HHS called in seven National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) teams, including community doctors and nurses from around the country, and two teams from U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, to be in place ready to respond when and where needed. The NDMS team members are deploying from Alabama, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

These teams join U.S. Public Health Service officers as well as NDMS medical personal already staged in Orlando from Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Hawaii. Additional medical teams are on alert to be called in as needed.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration activated the Disaster Distress Helpline, a toll-free call center, (1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746) to aid people in coping with the behavioral health effects of the storm and help people in impacted areas connect with local behavioral health professionals.

HHS also provided data to public health authorities in Florida to assist them in reaching Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electrically powered medical equipment at home. Power outages become life-or-death situations for people with these medical conditions.

HHS remains in regular contact with Florida health officials to maintain awareness of the local situation and stands ready to augment its support to the state as the situation unfolds.

HHS medical teams are providing care at a hospital emergency department on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. HHS and the Department of Defense began evacuating dialysis patients from St. Thomas today, and HHS medical teams are accompanying Urban Search and Rescue teams in locating dialysis patients whom authorities were unable to reach in order to evacuate the patients.

Earlier this week, Secretary  Price, declared public health emergencies for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has provided blanket waivers to aid Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in receiving care unimpeded in the aftermath of the storm.

The Department is committed to meeting the medical and public health needs of communities across the southeast impacted by Hurricane Irma in the immediate aftermath of the storm and as affected areas recover. Information on health safety tips during and after the hurricane will be provided by the Office of the Assistance Secretary for Preparedness and Response and will be available at www.PHE.gov/Irma

Critical updates will also be available at:

Secretary Price Meets with Top HHS Leaders for Hurricane Briefings

September 09, 2017

On Friday, September 8, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., held a series of meetings with top HHS officials to discuss Harvey recovery efforts and the current status of preparation for Hurricane Irma.

The meetings included Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; John Bardis, Assistant Secretary for Administration; Dr. Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service; Gopal Khanna, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration; George Sigounas, Administrator, Health Resources and Service Administration; Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use; Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs; Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families; RADM Chris Buchanan, Deputy Director, Indian Health Service; Lance Robertson, Assistant Secretary for Aging; Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health.

 

The HHS officials attended a briefing in the Secretary’s Operations Center (SOC) on the current Harvey response status, differences between Harvey and Irma, and what to expect over the next few days as Hurricane Irma continues to move towards the east coast.

 

After the briefing from the SOC, Secretary Price held a meeting with leaders of HHS’s operating and staff divisions to be further briefed on their respective recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana and preparation and response activities in regards to Hurricane Irma. Topics ranged from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) focus on crop concerns to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) work addressing the mental health needs for both hurricane victims and first responders. Secretary Price acknowledged the impact this storm is having on both those who live in the affected areas as well as the staff and volunteers who are in the line of duty. CMS Administrator Seema Verma highlighted the need to expedite Medicare and Medicaid waivers, and the Department’s continued mission of locating and supporting the needs of dialysis patients utilizing geolocation technology. CDC Director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, added that recovery efforts are going well in the Gulf, as is coordination between those deployed for Hurricane Irma. 

 

Secretary Price ended the briefing by thanking his staff for their dedication as they settle into a long response and recovery period.

HHS Secretary Price declares public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina due to Hurricane Irma

September 09, 2017

Following President Trump’s emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared public health emergencies in Georgia and South Carolina as Hurricane Irma tracks toward the southeastern 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.

“Hurricane Irma has already begun to carve a path of destruction and continues to pose a significant threat to public health and safety as it makes its way along the southeastern United States,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Through these public health emergency declarations for Georgia and South Carolina, we are helping ensure that people in those states with Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can maintain access to care. HHS medical teams are prepared to support states and U.S. territories respond to Hurricane Irma.”

Secretary Price declared public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday and for Florida on Thursday related to Hurricane Irma. The Secretary spoke this week with state and territory governors in the path of the hurricane to update them on all HHS resources available to help them keep their residents healthy.

In addition to increasing the flexibilities in how CMS helps beneficiaries in the path of Hurricane Irma, HHS has deployed more than 230 personnel to support state and local authorities in affected areas plan and respond to local communities’ medical needs. Additional HHS staff is on standby to assist in the response.

The declarations of public health emergencies due to Hurricane Irma follow similar public health emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana that Secretary Price signed to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act.

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to Sept. 7, 2017, for Georgia and Sept. 6, 2017, for South Carolina.

Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx

Secretario Price declara estado de emergencia de salud pública en Georgia y Carolina del Sur a causa del huracán Irma

September 09, 2017

Tras las declaraciones de emergencia en Georgia y Carolina del Sur por parte del Presidente Trump, el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Dr. Tom Price, declaró hoy la emergencia de salud pública en Georgia y Carolina del Sur mientras el huracán Irma avanza en su trayectoria por la península. Tras las declaraciones, los Centros de Servicios de Medicare y Medicaid (CMS) dependientes del HHS tomaron medidas para otorgar a los beneficiarios y proveedores de atención médica de la red mayor flexibilidad para la atención de situaciones de emergencia.

“Mientras avanza hacia el sureste de los Estados Unidos, el huracán Irma ha demostrado un alto nivel de destrucción y su paso sigue siendo una gran amenaza para la salud y la seguridad pública”, declaró el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanitarios, Dr. Tom Price. “Con estas declaraciones de emergencia de salud pública para Georgia y Carolina del Sur, estamos garantizando que los habitantes de esoss estados que tengan Medicare, Medicaid y el Programa de Seguro Médico Infantil (CHIP) puedan acceder a los servicios. Los equipos de HHS están preparados para proporcionar asistencia en los estados y territorios de los Estados Unidos en respuesta al huracán Irma”.

Price, secretario del HHS, declara el estado de emergencia de salud pública en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU a causa del huracán Irma. Esta semana, el secretario habló con las autoridades de los estados y territorios afectados por el huracán para mantenerlos al tanto sobre todos los recursos de HHS que se han puesto a disposición para asistir a la ciudadanía.

Además de aumentar la flexibilidad para la asistencia a beneficiarios de los CMS tras el paso del huracán Irma, HHS ha designado un grupo de 230 personas a las áreas afectadas para ayudar a las autoridades locales y estatales a planificar y responder a las necesidades médicas de sus comunidades. Y hay más personal de HHS de respaldo esperando para dar respuesta.

Las declaraciones de emergencia sanitaria a causa del huracán Irma están en línea con declaraciones similares en Texas y Luisiana que el Secretario Price firmó para ayudar a los residentes afectados por el huracán Harvey. El Secretario Price actúa en virtud de la autoridad que le confieren la Ley de Salud Pública y la Ley de Seguridad Social.

Estas medidas y flexibilizaciones tienen vigencia en forma retroactiva al 7 de septiembre de 2017 para Georgia, y al 6 de septiembre de 2017 para Carolina del Sur.

Hay información de salud y seguridad con relación al huracán Irma disponible en https://www.cdc.gov/es/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane_irma.html

HHS Office for Civil Rights Enters Into Agreement with Oklahoma Nursing Home to Protect Patients with HIV/AIDS from Discrimination

September 08, 2017

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with Heritage Hills Living & Rehabilitation Center, LLC (Heritage Hills). The Agreement resolves a complaint alleging that Heritage Hills discharged a seriously ill patient from its facility upon learning that she was HIV positive and in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

Heritage Hills is a for-profit, 81-bed, certified skilled nursing facility located in the City of McAlester, in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. Because Heritage Hills receives Federal financial assistance through its participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it is subject to the requirements of Section 504 and Section 1557.

Heritage Hills agreed to resolve the complaint after OCR initiated an investigation into whether Heritage Hills discriminated against the complainant’s daughter on the basis of the daughter’s disability (HIV/AIDS) in violation of Section 504 and Section 1557.

Under the Agreement, Heritage Hills will ensure compliance with Section 504 and Section 1557; report admissions and discharge data to OCR for a 12 month period; appoint a Civil Rights Coordinator; publish and post a new non-discrimination policy; implement a new patient grievance procedure and inform patients of their right to file complaints with OCR; require its staff to receive training on HIV/AIDS and Federal non-discrimination obligations; and revise its admissions policy to ensure that all individuals with disabilities, including but not limited to HIV/AIDS, are provided equal access to and an equal opportunity to participate in all programs, benefits and services offered by the facility.

“It is heart-wrenching to see a seriously ill person ejected from a federally-funded medical facility simply because they were HIV positive. Such conduct is not only tragic, it is illegal, and as our investigation and resolution of this complaint demonstrates, OCR is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities– including those with HIV/AIDS – are afforded equal access to health care,” said Roger Severino, OCR director.

OCR enforces civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, religion or exercise of conscience. Collectively, Section 504 and Section 1557 prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in health programs or activities that receive HHS funding, such as nursing homes and hospitals.

During the last five years, OCR has engaged in more than 200 enforcement and outreach efforts involving HIV/AIDS, including public education campaigns, HIV-related civil rights complaint investigations, HIV-related health information privacy investigations and 12 joint civil rights/health information privacy compliance reviews, which were the subject of OCR’s report, Protecting the Civil Rights and Health Information Privacy of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The report is available at: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/compliance-review-initiative-report-2016.pdf.

Of particular note, OCR has launched an Information is Powerful Medicine public education campaign, which encourages those living with HIV to be proactive in their health care. The campaign explains individuals’ health information privacy rights, including how individuals can monitor and access a copy of their medical records; and is available at http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/information-is-powerful-medicine/index.html.

A copy of the voluntary resolution agreement can be found at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/heritage-resolution-agreement.pdf.

For additional information on OCR’s work on HIV/AIDS issues, visit www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/HIV/index.html.

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at www.hhs.gov/ocr.

Follow OCR on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HHSOCR.

HHS Secretary Price declares public health emergency in Florida due to Hurricane Irma

September 08, 2017

Following the lead of President Trump’s emergency declaration for Florida, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in the state as Hurricane Irma continues its track toward the Florida peninsula. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

“Hurricane Irma has proven to be highly destructive and poses a significant threat to the health and safety of all Americans in its path,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “HHS has pre-positioned assets and personnel who can rapidly deploy to assist local responses in Florida to Hurricane Irma, and this declaration will help ensure that access to care is maintained for those with Medicare and Medicaid.”

Secretary Price declared public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday. He also spoke earlier this week with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló, and U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp to inform them about HHS’ efforts to prepare for the storm and assist their local responses if needed.

In addition to increasing the flexibility in providing services to, and assistance for, CMS beneficiaries, HHS has deployed more than 80 personnel to affected areas to help state and local authorities plan and respond to communities’ medical needs, and additional staff is on standby to assist.

Today’s declaration of a public health emergency for Florida follows similar public health emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana that Secretary Price signed to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act.

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to September 4, 2017.

Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx

Secretario Price declara estado de emergencia de salud pública en Florida a causa del huracán Irma

September 08, 2017

Tras las declaraciones de emergencia en Florida por parte del Presidente Trump, el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Dr. Tom Price, declaró hoy la emergencia de salud pública en Florida mientras el huracán Irma avanza en su trayectoria por la península. Además, tomó medidas para otorgar a los beneficiarios y proveedores de atención médica de la red de los Centros de Servicios de Medicare y Medicaid (CMS) dependientes del HHS mayor flexibilidad para la atención de situaciones de emergencia.

“El huracán Irma a demostrado un alto nivel de destrucción y su paso es una gran amenaza para la salud y la seguridad de todos los estadounidenses”, declaró el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Dr. Tom Price. “El departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos ha designado los recursos y el personal que pueden responder rápidamente para atender las necesidades locales en Florida a causa del huracán Irma, y esta declaración permite garantizar la continuidad del acceso a los servicios de salud para quienes tengan los seguros médicos estatales”.

Price, secretario del HHS, declara el estado de emergencia de salud pública en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU a causa del huracán Irma El Secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los EE. UU., Dr. Tom Price, habló el martes con el gobernador de Puerto Rico, Ricardo Roselló, y el gobernador de las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU, Kenneth Mapp para informarles las iniciativas de HHS para prepararse para la tormenta y brindar asistencia local de ser necesario.

Además de aumentar la flexibilidad para la prestación de los servicios y la asistencia para beneficiarios de los CMS, HHS ha asignado un grupo de 80 personas a las áreas afectadas para ayudar a las autoridades locales y estatales a planificar y responder a las necesidades médicas de sus comunidades, y hay personal adicional a disposición en caso de necesidad.

La declaración de emergencia sanitaria en Florida está en línea con declaraciones similares en Texas y Luisiana que el Secretario Price firmó para ayudar a los residentes afectados por el huracán Harvey. El Secretario Price actúa en virtud de la autoridad que le confieren la Ley de Salud Pública y la Ley de Seguridad Social.

Estas medidas y flexibilizaciones tienen vigencia en forma retroactiva al 4 de septiembre de 2017.

Hay información de salud y seguridad con relación al huracán Irma disponible en https://www.cdc.gov/es/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane_irma.html

HHS moviliza personal médico y suministros para responder ante el huracán Irma

September 08, 2017

A modo de prevención del impacto significativo que tendrá el huracán Irma, que en la actualidad es un huracán de categoría 5, a medida que se acerca a los estados y territorios estadounidenses, el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos (HHS) asignó personal médico de apoyo cerca de las áreas que podrían verse afectadas y alertó a los equipos médicos y de salud pública de apoyo para que estén preparados para presentarse en las áreas afectadas.

“El huracán Irma es una tormenta particularmente fuerte, y como fuente central de apoyo de servicios médicos y de salud pública a nivel nacional, estamos preparados para asistir a los estados y territorios estadounidenses con todas sus necesidades de salud cuando llegue el huracán”, afirmó el subsecretario de Preparación y Respuesta ante emergencias del HHS, Dr. Robert Kadlec. “Una tormenta de esta magnitud supone una amenaza para la salud y la seguridad de todos los que estén en su camino, y pido a todos los residentes que estén preparados para los posibles efectos que esto pueda acarrear para su salud”.

El Secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los EE. UU., Dr. Tom Price, habló el martes con el gobernador de Puerto Rico, Ricardo Roselló, el gobernador de las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU., Kenneth Mapp y el gobernador de la Florida, Rick Scott para informarles las iniciativas de HHS para prepararse para la tormenta y brindar asistencia local de ser necesario.

Se enviarán equipos y personal del ámbito federal a solicitud de cada funcionario estatal o territorial. Para garantizar la capacidad de respuesta inmediata a las solicitudes por parte de los estados y territorios afectados, el HHS designó personal de coordinación de respuesta y asignó equipos en Puerto Rico y Georgia. Estos equipos supervisarán las actividades de respuesta en Puerto Rico, las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. o Florida.

El HHS también despachó un Equipo de Asistencia Médica ante Catástrofes (DMAT, en inglés) del Sistema Médico Nacional de Catástrofes a Puerto Rico, y apostó dos DMAT en Georgia preparados para desplegarse rápidamente a regiones que hayan sufrido el impacto de Irma. Los DMAT están integrados por profesionales médicos y personal de apoyo del sector privado que se convocan para prestar servicio público en situaciones de catástrofe, a fin de ayudar a los funcionarios locales a cubrir las necesidades acuciantes de atención médica después de la tormenta.

El HHS puso en estado de alerta a DMAT adicionales para que estén preparados para desplegarse en caso de que fuera necesario. Hay tres equipos con personal del Cuerpo de Comisionados del Servicio de Salud Pública de los Estados Unidos también preparados para brindar asistencia.

Para asistir a los funcionarios estatales y territoriales en la preparación frente a los posibles impactos sobre la salud, el HHS pone los datos de emPOWER a disposición de los funcionarios de salud pública en Puerto Rico y Florida. Estos datos dan cuenta de la cantidad de beneficiarios de Medicare en cada región posiblemente impactada que dependen de alguno de los 14 tipos de equipos de asistencia de vida, que van desde tubos concentradores de oxígeno hasta sillas de ruedas eléctricas, además de datos sobre la cantidad de personas que dependen de tratamientos de diálisis, asistencia respiratoria con oxígeno y servicios médicos a domicilio. Estos ciudadanos se encuentran entre los más vulnerables de sus comunidades y son los que con mayor probabilidad necesitarán asistencia para salvar sus vidas si se producen apagones prolongados.

De ser necesario, el HHS puede instalar Puestos Médicos Federales (FMS, en inglés) con capacidad para atender hasta 250 pacientes a la vez. El HHS instaló y aportó el personal para un FMS en un centro de convenciones en Houston después del huracán Harvey. El departamento también está en condiciones de movilizar suministros y equipos médicos adicionales, incluidos productos farmacológicos, según resulte necesario, para asistir en la respuesta médica local.

Hay información de salud y seguridad con relación al huracán Irma disponible en: https://www.cdc.gov/es/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane_irma.html

Secretario Price declara estado de emergencia de salud pública en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. a causa del huracán Irma

September 08, 2017

Tras las declaraciones de emergencia en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. por parte del Presidente Trump, el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Dr. Tom Price, declaró hoy la emergencia de salud pública en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. a medida que el huracán Irma avanza en su trayectoria por el Caribe. Además, tomó medidas para otorgar a los beneficiarios y proveedores de atención médica de la red de los Centros de Servicios de Medicare y Medicaid (CMS) dependientes del HHS mayor flexibilidad para la atención de situaciones de emergencia.

“Con la inminente llegada del huracán Irma a Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU., el HHS se prepara para ayudar a nuestros compatriotas, y estamos haciendo todo lo necesario para garantizar el acceso a los servicios de atención médica y al apoyo que necesiten”, expresó el Secretario del HHS, Dr. Tom Price. “Estamos movilizando recursos para cubrir las necesidades de atención médica inmediatas y para estar preparados para las consecuencias a largo plazo. Estamos haciendo todo lo que está a nuestro alcance para sostener el acceso a la atención para los beneficiarios de Medicare y Medicaid con apoyo a los hospitales y otros centros de atención médica que forman parte de esos programas, a fin de que puedan prestar servicios de atención médica en tiempo y forma a tantas personas impactadas por la tormenta como resulte posible”.

Además de aumentar la flexibilidad para la prestación de los servicios y la asistencia para beneficiarios de los CMS, HHS ha asignado un grupo de 70 personas a las áreas afectadas para ayudar a las autoridades locales y estatales a planificar y responder a las necesidades médicas de sus comunidades, y hay personal adicional a disposición en caso de necesidad.

La declaración de emergencia sanitaria en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de EE. UU. está en línea con declaraciones similares en Texas y Luisiana que el Secretario Price firmó para ayudar a los residentes afectados por el huracán Harvey. El Secretario Price actúa en virtud de la autoridad que le confieren la Ley de Salud Pública y la Ley de Seguridad Social.

Estas medidas y flexibilizaciones tienen vigencia en forma retroactiva al 5 de septiembre de 2017.

Hay información de salud y seguridad con relación al huracán Irma disponible en: https://www.cdc.gov/es/disasters/hurricanes/hurricane_irma.html

National survey reveals the scope of behavioral health across the nation

September 07, 2017

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report provides the latest estimates on substance use and mental health in the nation, including the misuse of opioids across the nation. Opioids include heroin use and pain reliever misuse. In 2016, there were 11.8 million people aged 12 or older who misused opioids in the past year and the majority of that use is pain reliever misuse rather than heroin use—there were 11.5 million pain reliever misusers and 948,000 heroin users.

“Gathering, analyzing, and sharing data is one of the key roles the federal government can play in addressing two of the Department of Health and Human Services’ top clinical priorities: serious mental illness and the opioid crisis,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “This year’s survey underscores the challenges we face on both fronts and why the Trump Administration is committed to empowering those on the frontlines of the battle against substance abuse and mental illness.”

Nationally, nearly a quarter (21.1percent) of persons 12 years or older with an opioid use disorder received treatment for their illicit drug use at a specialty facility in the past year. Receipt of treatment for illicit drug use at a specialty facility was higher among people with a heroin use disorder (37.5 percent) than among those with a prescription pain reliever use disorder (17.5 percent).

The report also reveals that in 2016 while adolescents have stable levels of the initiation of marijuana, adults aged 18 to 25 have higher rates of initiation compared to 2002-2008, but the rates have been stable since 2008. In contrast, adults aged 26 and older have higher rates of marijuana initiation than prior years. In 2016, an estimated 21.0 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment and of these 21.0 million people, about 2.2 million people received substance use treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.

Rates of serious mental illness among age groups 26 and older have remained constant since 2008. However, the prevalence of serious mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts has increased among young adults over recent years. Among adults aged 18 or older who had serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year, the percentage receiving treatment for mental health services in 2016 (64.8 percent) was similar to the estimates in all previous years.

“Although progress has been made in some areas, especially among young people, there are many challenges we need to meet in addressing the behavioral health issues facing our nation,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “Fortunately there is effective action being taken by the Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with initiatives to reduce prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death, and dependence as well as many evidence-based early intervention programs to increase access to treatment and recovery for people with serious mental illness. We need to do everything possible to assure that those in need of treatment and recovery services can access them and we look forward to continuing work with federal and state partners on this goal.”

“Addiction does not have to be a death sentence – recovery is possible for most people when the right services and supports in place, including treatment, housing, employment, and peer recovery support,” said Richard Baum, Acting Director Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The truth is that there’s no one path to recovery because everyone is different. And frankly, it doesn’t matter how someone gets to recovery.  It just matters that they have every tool available to them, including peer recovery support and evidence-based treatment options like medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.”

NSDUH is a scientific annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.  NSDUH is a primary source of information on the scope and nature of many substance use and mental health issues affecting the nation. SAMHSA is issuing its 2016 NSDUH report on key substance use and mental health indicators as part of the 28th annual observance of National Recovery Month.  Recovery Month expands public awareness that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment for substance use and mental disorders is effective, and people can and do recover from these disorders.

The complete findings for the NSDUH report issued today are available on the SAMHSA web site at: http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsa-data-outcomes-quality/major-data-collections/reports-detailed-tables-2016-NSDUH

To view the live webcast please visit http://www.webcaster4.com/Player/Index?webcastId=22421&uid=955241&g=a47f13af-0d86-46e9-8cca-08086588482f&sid. The webcast will be shown from 9:00 – 10:30 am.

HHS Secretary Price declares public health emergency in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Irma

September 07, 2017

Following the lead of President Trump’s emergency declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., today declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma continues its track in the Caribbean. In addition, he has taken action that gives HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) beneficiaries and their healthcare providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

“As Hurricane Irma bears down on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, HHS stands ready to help our fellow Americans and do all we can to ensure they have access to the healthcare services and support they need,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Assets are being mobilized to address both immediate healthcare needs and prepare for long-term challenges. We are doing everything in our power to maintain access to care for those with Medicare and Medicaid by supporting the ability of hospitals and other healthcare facilities that participate in those programs to provide timely care to as many people impacted by the storm as possible.”

In addition to increasing the flexibility in providing services to, and assistance for, CMS beneficiaries, HHS has deployed approximately 70 personnel to affected areas to help state and local authorities plan and respond to communities’ medical needs, and additional staff is on standby to assist.

Today’s declaration of public health emergencies for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands follows similar emergency declarations for Texas and Louisiana that Secretary Price signed to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Secretary Price acted under his authority in the Public Health Service Act and Social Security Act.

These actions and flexibilities are effective retroactively to September 5, 2017.

Public health and safety information for Hurricane Irma can be found at https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/irma2017/Pages/default.aspx

HHS mobilizes medical staff and supplies to support response to Hurricane Irma

September 07, 2017

Anticipating significant impacts from Hurricane Irma, currently a category 5 hurricane, as the storm approaches U.S. territories and states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pre-positioned medical support personnel near potentially impacted areas and alerted additional medical and public health teams to be ready to deploy into affected areas.

“Hurricane Irma is an especially powerful storm, and as the focal point for federal medical and public health support, we stand ready to assist states and U.S. territories in meeting local health needs when this hurricane hits,” said HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec. “A storm of this magnitude threatens the safety and health of everyone in its path, and I urge residents to be prepared for the possible health effects that come along with it.”

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, M.D., spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Roselló, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp and Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday to inform them about HHS’ efforts to prepare for the storm and assist their local responses if needed.

Federal personnel and equipment are provided at the request of state or territory officials. To ensure that HHS is positioned to fill requests immediately from affected states and territories, the department pre-positioned incident coordination staff and equipment in Puerto Rico and Georgia. These teams will oversee response activities in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Florida.

HHS also dispatched a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) from the National Disaster Medical System to Puerto Rico, and pre-positioned two DMATs in Georgia to deploy quickly into areas impacted by Irma. DMATs consist of medical professionals and support personnel from private sector who are called into federal service during disasters to help local officials meet the overwhelming need for medical care after storms.

HHS alerted four additional DMATs to be ready to deploy if needed. Three teams of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps personnel also stand ready to assist.

To aid state and territory officials in preparing for potential health impacts, HHS makes emPOWER data available to public health officials in Puerto Rico and Florida. This data shows the number of Medicare beneficiaries in each potentially impacted area who rely on any of 14 types of life-maintaining and assistive equipment, ranging from oxygen concentrators to electric wheelchairs, as well as data on the number of people who rely on dialysis, oxygen, and home health services. These citizens are among the most vulnerable in their communities and most likely to need life-saving assistance in prolonged power outages.

If needed, HHS can establish Federal Medical Stations (FMS) capable of providing care for to up to 250 patients at a time. HHS set up and staffed an FMS at a convention center in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. The Department also can mobilize additional medical supplies and equipment, including pharmaceuticals, as needed to aid the local medical response.

Information on health safety tips before and after the hurricane will be provided by HHS’ Office of the Assistance Secretary for Preparedness and Response and will be available at www.phe.gov/irma.

Critical updates are available at:

ASPR - @PHEgov

HHS - @HHSgov

CDC  - @CDCgov

Secretary Tom Price, M.D. - @SecPriceMD

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