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HHS News Releases
Updated: 22 hours 30 min ago

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

July 19, 2017

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"

July 15, 2017

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

July 14, 2017

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

July 13, 2017

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.

Medicare Trustees Report shows trust fund solvent through 2029

July 13, 2017

Today, the Medicare Trustees projected that the trust fund financing Medicare’s hospital insurance coverage will be depleted in 2029, one year later than projected in last year’s report. Lower spending in 2016, lower projected inpatient hospital utilization and slightly better projected hospital insurance deficit in 2017 than in 2016 were the contributing factors to the extended solvency projection. Further, because spending levels in Medicare did not exceed its targets, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), set up by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), was not triggered.

“For 51 years, Medicare has played a crucial role in providing healthcare for America’s senior citizens,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Unfortunately, on its current trajectory, Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be depleted in just over a decade, while spending on the other elements of the program continues to grow much faster than our economy. As the Trustees Report says, this means that reform to the program is needed. At HHS, we take seriously our responsibility to protect Medicare for this generation and those to come, and we are pursuing all available avenues to improve Medicare’s sustainability in ways that put patients first.”

In 2016, the Medicare program provided health insurance coverage to 56.8 million beneficiaries. Total Medicare expenditures were $679 billion, and income was $710 billion. Total Medicare spending was slightly lower than estimated in last year’s Trustees Report. Outlays were slightly lower for Part A and Part D than previously estimated while Part B expenditures were very close to the 2016 estimate.

“Millions of Americans rely on the healthcare they receive from Medicare,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “As stewards of this program, CMS will continue to do all we can to reduce out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries and increase the quality of and access to healthcare for our seniors.”

The Trustees project that total Medicare costs will grow from approximately 3.6 percent of GDP in 2016 to 5.6 percent of GDP by 2041 and will increase gradually thereafter to about 5.9 percent of GDP by 2091. This projected cost growth exceeds GDP growth through the mid-2030s and is the direct result of a rapidly aging population, caused by the large baby-boom generation entering retirement, and lower-birth-rate generations entering employment. Growth in expenditures per Medicare beneficiary exceeds growth in per capita GDP over this time period. In later years, projected costs expressed as a share of GDP will rise slowly for Medicare, reflecting very gradual population aging caused by increasing longevity and slower growth in per-beneficiary health care costs.

The Trustees project that the 2018 Part B premium will remain at the 2017 levels and that the Social Security cost of living adjustment would be 2.2 percent. Due to low trend increases and Medicare’s “hold harmless” protection, about 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have experienced very modest increases in their Part B premium rates since 2013. Finally, the report also noted that the Supplementary Medical Insurance program (Part B and Prescription Drug Coverage) continue to grow faster than GDP in part due to prescription drug costs rising somewhat more quickly than other medical services.

The Medicare Trustees are: Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, M.D.; Treasury Secretary and Managing Trustee, Steven Mnuchin; Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta; and Acting Social Security Commissioner, Nancy A. Berryhill. CMS Administrator Seema Verma is the secretary of the board.

A copy of the report is available here: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ReportsTrustFunds/index.html

A copy of the IPAB letter can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/ActuarialStudies/IPAB-Determination.html

HHS Secretary Price: Alaska Waiver Approval Just the First Step in Era of State Flexibility

July 12, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., released the following statement on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Treasury’s announcement that they are granting approval to Alaska’s State Innovation Waiver:

“Alaskans have suffered greatly under Obamacare. Premiums on the state’s individual market have tripled since the law was implemented, while just one issuer is still selling plans. HHS has been working with our partners in Alaska to determine how best to provide some relief from this situation.

“The State Innovation Waiver approved today will support Alaska’s reinsurance program, which has already helped put downward pressure on premium increases in the state’s individual market. Alaska predicts that continuing its reinsurance program will lead to lower premiums than the state would see otherwise.

“Washington does not have all the answers when it comes to healthcare. State Innovation Waivers are just one step of many we are taking to inaugurate a new era of state flexibility and innovation in healthcare, and we look forward to more productive work with our state partners.”

Read more about Alaska’s waiver here.

Secretary Price Statement on Declining Obamacare Insurance Market

July 11, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that issuer participation in the federally-facilitated health insurance exchange continues to decline:

“Year after year, insurers are finding Obamacare unworkable and are abandoning it in droves. Barely half the number of issuers who initially filed to sell plans on Healthcare.gov in 2016 want to participate in 2018, and a vast majority of them left before the most recent open enrollment period.

“The situation has never been more dire. Americans are continuing to lose what health coverage they have and are forced to choose from fewer options or pay the IRS for the right to go without. This further limits their access to the doctors and healthcare services they need.

“Congress must act now to repair the damage Obamacare has inflicted and put in place a patient-centered system that is responsive to the needs of individuals and families, not the demands of Washington.”

Secretary Price Appoints Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., as CDC Director and ATSDR Administrator

July 08, 2017

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., named Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., as the 17th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

“Today, I am extremely proud and excited to announce Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as the new Director of the CDC,” said Secretary Price. “Having known Dr. Fitzgerald for many years, I know that she has a deep appreciation and understanding of medicine, public health, policy and leadership—all qualities that will prove vital as she leads the CDC in its work to protect America’s health 24/7. We look forward to working with Dr. Fitzgerald to achieve President Trump's goal of strengthening public health surveillance and ensuring global health security at home and abroad. Congratulations to Dr. Fitzgerald and her family.”

Dr. Fitzgerald has been the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and state health officer for the past six years. She replaces Dr. Anne Schuchat, who has been the acting CDC director and acting ATSDR administrator since January 20. Dr. Schuchat is returning to her role as CDC’s principal deputy director.

“Additionally, I’d like to extend my deep appreciation and thanks to Dr. Anne Schuchat for her exemplary service as acting director of the CDC,” said Secretary Price. “We thank Dr. Schuchat and her team for their dedication in our public health efforts to keep Americans safe and for their work to ensure a seamless transition. We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Schuchat in her role as principal deputy director of CDC.”

Dr. Fitzgerald, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, has practiced medicine for three decades. As Georgia DPH Commissioner, Dr. Fitzgerald oversaw various state public health programs and directed the state’s 18 public health districts and 159 county health departments. Prior to that, Dr. Fitzgerald held numerous leadership positions. She served on the board and as president of the Georgia OB-GYN Society and she worked as a health care policy advisor with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Paul Coverdell. She has served as a Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Board for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.     

Dr. Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine. She completed post-graduate training at the Emory-Grady Hospitals in Atlanta and held an assistant clinical professorship at Emory Medical Center. As a Major in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

HHS awards $15 Million to help families affected by lead exposure in Flint, MI

July 01, 2017

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced approximately $15 million in funding for the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to provide health and social services for women, infants, and their families who have had, or are at risk for, lead exposure in Flint, Michigan and the surrounding community. The Genesee County Health Department oversees the county’s Healthy Start Program.

The funding, authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act and the Public Health Service Act, will help residents who are experiencing health issues linked to exposure to the local water supply. Lead exposure can cause miscarriage, developmental delays in infants, and other medical issues. Because lead can stay in the bones for decades, women and infants may continue to be exposed through pregnancy and breastfeeding even after the source is removed.

“The Trump Administration is taking important steps to support the residents of Flint, Michigan as the need for vital resources remains critical to the health of their community,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “We understand the urgency of the situation, and this funding will help connect affected and at-risk Flint residents to comprehensive health and social services proven to mitigate the effects of lead exposure.” 

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau supports the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to strengthen families, improve local healthcare quality, and increase community participation in healthcare decisions. The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will use this new grant in partnership with other community organizations to expand access to services available to minimize the health effects of lead exposure among pregnant women, infants and young children in Flint and the surrounding Genesee County area. 

“Ongoing screening, follow-up, and attention to children’s development all support recovery from Flint’s enduring public health crisis as a result of lead exposure,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, Ph.D. M.S.  “The funding we’re announcing today represents one of many ways we are working to assist families in this community.”

The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will identify children who were exposed to lead from the contaminated water to assess their needs; facilitate access to recommended services; and minimize developmental delays. They will also coordinate access to appropriate medical, behavioral, and developmental screening, services, and supports for impacted women, children, and their families.

For more information about HRSA’s Healthy Start Program, visit: https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/healthy-start

Readout: Secretary Price Hosts Healthcare Listening Session with Doctors in Dallas, Texas

June 27, 2017

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., visited the HHS Region VI Office in Dallas, TX where he met with doctors to discuss the challenges that patients and providers face under our current healthcare system.

Secretary Price opened the listening session with greetings from President Trump, who has heard from patients, families, doctors, small business owners, and others all around this country, about the challenges posed by Obamacare. Specifically, Texans have seen on average an 82% premium increase since 2013, under Obamacare. In 2014, 1,066,360 families paid $247.5 million in penalties. In 2017, 94 out of 254 counties had only one insurer, 86% of counties had two or fewer choices, and eight insurers left the Texas marketplace.

During the listening session, Secretary Price heard from doctors who have witnessed the real-life consequences of these detrimental facts and figures. Each shared their unique perspective on how Obamacare has adversely affected their patients and practices.

Dr.  Ivette C. Lozano of Dallas, TX described how Obamacare, in her words, has “absolutely devastated her practice.” She said that 60% of her patients can no longer come to see her, since the implementation of Obamacare. Dr. Lozano described stories of low- and middle- income patients, some of whom are business owners, whose premiums have skyrocketed and now have unaffordable $6,000-$8,000 deductibles. She described that her patients and she are hoping to repeal and replace Obamacare so that patients can have access to affordable insurance which would allow them to see primary care doctors.

Secretary Price explained to the group and Dr. Lozano that, “Patients are the focus of where we’re putting our efforts. We must work towards choices and flexibility that are necessary for patients, physicians, and allow states to fashion programs that actually work for their citizens. That’s our goal and we’re moving in that direction with the Senate bill.”

Many individual participants provided their own,troubling stories of their patients and practices being harmed by Obamacare. Secretary Price thanked the participants for sharing their stories and explained that the Trump Administration is working to put patients, families, and doctors in charge of medical decisions and to provide relief from the negative consequences of Obamacare. He and President Trump are committed to reforming our nation’s healthcare system to provide access to better, more affordable healthcare for Texans and all Americans.

The following individuals participated:

  • Compton Broders III, MD—University Park, TX
  • Craig Callewart, MD—Dallas, TX
  • Don R. Read, MD—Dallas, TX
  • Ivette C. Lozano, MD—Dallas, TX
  • J. Scott Holliday, DO, MBA—Dallas, TX
  • John Gill, MD—Dallas, TX
  • Katrina Bradford, MD—Richardson, TX
  • Stuart Simon, MD—Dallas, TX

Readout: Secretary Price’s Visit to Colonial Flag Company in Sandy, Utah to Discuss Healthcare

June 27, 2017

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., visited Colonial Flag Company in Sandy, Utah, to hear from individuals who are suffering from Obamacare. Paul Swenson of Colonial Flag Company hosted Secretary Price at a listening session with local business and community leaders on the front lines battling rising healthcare costs and disappearing choices.

Secretary Price opened his remarks with greetings from President Trump and expressed the President’s commitment to healthcare reforms that will provide access to better, more affordable healthcare for all Americans and Utahns. The Secretary noted that he and the President appreciate how dire the situation is right now.

Under Obamacare, Utahns have seen on average a 101% premium increase. In 2014, 78,530 Utah families paid $17.3 million in penalties. In 2017, 13 counties had only one insurer, and taxpayers lost $89.7 million from the collapse of a healthcare co-op. As a result of the failure of Obamacare, many attendees expressed their frustration and worry at these increasing costs and taxes.

Many individual participants echoed similar, troubling Obamacare stories, including Ms. Juanita Morales Strong of Stronger Insurance and Ms. Kathy Smith of Smith and Edwards Hardware, both of whom have experienced the disastrous effects of Obamacare on their businesses, employees, and communities.

The listening session included the following participants:

  • Paul Swenson, Owner, Colonial Flag Company
  • Lane Beattie, President & CEO, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce
  • Raymond Hall, Senior Vice President of People & Culture, LHM Group
  • Kathy Smith, Owner, Smith and Edwards Hardware
  • Rob J. Thurston, President, HRConsulting Group
  • Dave Swenson, Owner, CMI Insulation
  • Fred Lampropolous, Chairman & CEO, Merit Medical
  • Brian Shiozawa, M.D., Doctor & Utah State Senator, District 8    
  • Marc Bennett, President & CEO, HealthInsight
  • Andrew Croshaw, CEO, Leavitt Partners
  • Juanita Morales Strong, Founder, Stronger Insurance
  • Jonathan Johnson, CEO, Overstock.com

Following the listening session, the Secretary toured Colonial Flag Company and participated in a town hall with employees and listening session participants. The Secretary discussed the rapidly rising premiums and deductibles in the individual and small-group markets where Americans buy insurance for themselves. He noted that even with the higher prices, insurers across America are either leaving the exchanges or threatening to do so.

During a series of questions from the audience, Secretary Price expressed his support for the Better Care Reconciliation Act that the U.S. Senate is considering this week and noted that this legislation is a real, effective repeal of Obamacare that also gives states the flexibility and resources they need to design a safety-net that meets the healthcare needs of their low-income, most vulnerable citizens.

Secretary Price thanked the Utah congressional delegation for their support, particularly Senator Orrin Hatch for his incredible leadership in this effort to reform our healthcare laws and make sure states have the flexibility they need to care for their citizens.

The town hall concluded with Secretary Price expressing his support for the Senate healthcare legislation and thanking Colonial Flag Company for hosting him and allowing him to hear directly from Utah residents about their vision for a better healthcare system. 

HHS announces the availability of $195 million to expand substance abuse and mental health services at health centers nationwide

June 26, 2017

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $195 million in a new funding opportunity for community health centers to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services focusing on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia. The awards are expected to be made in September of this year.

Health centers that receive an award will use the funds to increase the number of personnel dedicated to mental health and substance abuse services and to leverage health information technology and training to support the expansion of mental health and substance abuse services and their integration into primary care.  This funding will address two of HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D.’s highest priorities: to better address serious mental illness and to fight the opioid epidemic.  

“Addressing serious mental illness across our nation and combating the opioid epidemic are two of the Department’s top priorities,” said Secretary Price. “Integration is key to solving these challenges. This funding will help our nation’s health centers provide that integration for mental health services and opioid addiction treatment.”

“Providing behavioral health care in a primary medical care setting reduces costs and leads to improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. George Sigounas, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “This is especially true when it comes to substance abuse, including opioid addiction.”

HRSA’s Health Center Program provides funding to community-based health care providers in underserved areas. Nearly 1,400 community health centers operate at more than 10,400 sites, providing care to over 24 million people across the nation, in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.

Today, health centers employ nearly 190,000 people. With this new funding opportunity, health centers will be able to increase personnel to help expand access to mental health services and substance abuse services.

Applications for the Access Increases for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (AIMS) award are due July 26, 2017.

Additionally, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) is making $3 million available to expand opioid-related healthcare services in rural communities. The grants will support up to 12 grantees for three years. Applications for the FORHP program are due July 21, 2017. 

The Trump Administration and Secretary Price have identified the opioid crisis as one of the top priorities for improving the health of the American people. HHS has outlined five specific strategies to combat the ongoing opioid crisis: improving access to treatment and recovery services; targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; strengthening timely public health data and reporting; supporting cutting-edge research; and advancing the practice of pain management.

For more information about the AIMS award, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/supplement/

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

More information about the FORHP program and instructions for applicants can be found under Funding Opportunities at: https://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/

For more information on FORHP’s rural programs, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/index.html

Secretary Price Applauds Senate Proposal to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

June 22, 2017

                                              CLICK HERE to watch the video

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement in support of the Senate’s proposal to protect patients, bring down the cost of insurance coverage, and expand healthcare choices:

“Under Obamacare, premiums have skyrocketed across the country – on average doubling what Americans are paying for health insurance coverage. Because of these rising costs, millions of Americans have dropped their unaffordable coverage and others have been forced to pay a penalty to Uncle Sam just for the right to go without. Patients, doctors, job creators, and Americans from all walks of life are being harmed and losing access to affordable coverage and the care they need. We have heard their voices. Dudley Bostic, the owner of a local pharmacy in Tennessee, recently explained how access to affordable healthcare is disappearing for so many in her community. And Dr. Ryan Stanton from Kentucky shared the importance of putting patients and doctors in charge of healthcare, not Washington D.C., and protecting the doctor-patient relationship.

“That’s why we welcome the Senate’s proposal to provide Americans with much needed relief from Obamacare. The Senate’s proposal is built on patient-centered reforms that put the American people in charge of their healthcare decisions, not government, protecting patients, bringing down the cost of coverage, and expanding choices.

“The Trump Administration is committed to the health of all Americans. Here at the Department of Health and Human Services, we have already taken steps to reduce Obamacare’s burdens for the American people. You can learn more about HHS actions to lower premiums and protect patients by visiting hhs.gov/relief.”

 

 

Readout of Secretary Price’s Healthcare Listening Session with Individuals Facing Lack of Coverage

June 22, 2017

Yesterday, at the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., hosted a listening session with Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to hear from individuals who are facing a lack of choice in healthcare plans due to insurers pulling out of Obamacare marketplaces.

Secretary Price opened the meeting by welcoming participants from Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio to the White House. He thanked them for sharing their stories and thanked President Trump for his focus on fixing healthcare in America. Administrator Verma, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, and Assistant to the President, Omarosa Manigault, all voiced their and the President’s commitment to put in place a healthcare system that offers real, affordable choices to the American people.

“The individual small group markets, as you well know, where Americans buy insurance for themselves, the premiums and deductibles are increasing significantly and pricing folks really out of the market,” said Secretary Price.A lot of people have an insurance card, but they don’t have any care because of the prices for deductibles. This challenge is an inherent challenge that exists because of the flaws within Obamacare, within the ACA. It’s not because of something else going on out there. It’s because of the structural flaws. And even with these higher prices, and the changes that have been put in place, insurers continue to flee the market. They continue to leave some coverage opportunities and get less and less. It’s happening all across the country, particularly in the states where you all are from.”

Secretary Price noted that premiums have risen 86% in Ohio, 145% in Missouri, and 110% in Iowa since Obamacare was implemented and that these states have had major insurer exits and almost non-existent choices. Many individual participants told real-life stories of how these factors have negatively impacted themselves, their families, their businesses, and their communities.

“The fact of the matter is that all those numbers reflect real people,” said Secretary Price. “This is about real folks; this is about real people’s lives. And the stories that we’ve heard at this table and around the country have been remarkably moving. I appreciate you participating and coming today to share your stories. At the Health and Human Services Department, the department that I’m privilege to lead, we are going through every single rule and every single regulation that was promulgated pursing the previous law. To make certain we determine whether it helps patients or harms patients? Does it cost more or does it cost less? And we’re going to make certain that we move those in the right direction. Which is helping patients and driving down costs.”

Around the table, many expressed their concerns that because of Obamacare, more insurers would exit their markets, leaving them with no choices in bare counties or only one choice for health insurance. This was particularly of concern to the individual participants who have pre-existing conditions. Secretary Price noted that in his joint address to Congress, President Trump committed to ensuring those Americans with pre-existing conditions continue to have access to coverage and that we need a system with choices to ensure patients have the care that is most responsive to their needs, not that Washington forces them to buy.

Many individual participants also told stories about how many insurers have exited their marketplaces and left only one choice for coverage.  They told the Secretary that just because they have an option for coverage, they cannot afford the one “choice.” Secretary Price thanked the participants for coming to Washington, D.C. to share their stories and reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to reduce Obamacare’s burdens by providing the American people with the highest quality healthcare system.

The following individuals participated:

  • Dr. Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President
  • George Sifakis, Assistant to the President, Office of Public Liaison
  • Omarosa Manigault, Assistant to the President, Office of Public Liaison
  • George Sifakis, Assistant to the President, Office of Public Liaison
  • Jim Blundell, Lincoln, MO - Retired
  • Candace Fowler, Henry County, MO - Homemaker, Farmer
  • Steve Gaswint, Nashport, OH -President, Black Run Transmissions, Inc.
  • Dr. Douglas Lake, Ames, IA - Radiologist
  • Stephanie McClain, Clinton, MO - Insurance Agent
  • Tommie McClain, Clinton, MO - Student
  • Nancy Nycum, Edwards, MO - Retired cattle rancher and small business owner
  • Kevin Walker, Sedalia, MO - Photographer and Recreational Assistant

Secretary Price Meets with Opioid Addiction Specialists, Providers, and Treatment Facilities Stakeholders

June 20, 2017

Combating the opioid crisis is one of the top priorities President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. have identified for the Department. Earlier today, Secretary Price hosted two listening sessions with stakeholders to gather recommendations for ways to address the opioid epidemic. The Secretary recently visited Michigan, West Virginia, Maine, and New Hampshire—part of an HHS listening tour on America’s opioid crisis—where he has talked face-to-face with people who are on the front lines of this crisis. In a recent blog post he wrote about the listening tour:

 “… we’re looking up and down the federal government and asking ourselves what we can do – and what we can do better – to amplify and support the work of the men and women on the front lines of this battle. The only way the federal government can be an effective and capable partner to state and local officials is by first listening to and learning from them. That’s why our listening tour is so important…

Today’s meetings were a continuation of the Secretary’s national listening tour. In the morning, Secretary Price met with addiction specialists and providers and in the afternoon, he met with representatives of treatment facilities.

Many stakeholders, including representatives of faith-based organizations, from across the country told their stories around the most effective methods of treating patients with substance abuse. Participants explained their frustrations regarding treatment resources and identified the urgent need to coordinate amongst all stakeholders to fight opioid addiction. Many individual participants encouraged the Secretary to increase the number of trained providers who are able to treat opioid use disorder and to allocate resources to those programs that are proven to help those in the most need.

Secretary Price listened to the group’s suggestions and explained that HHS is in a receiving mode, looking for innovative recommendations on how best to combat the opioid crisis. He told the participants about the Department of Health and Human Services’ five-point strategy for how we can best help local communities beat back the epidemic:

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

Secretary Price thanked the participants for their contributions, insights, and for the work they do every single day. He acknowledged there is lots of work to do and he expressed President Trump and the Administration’s commitment and ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis in America.

The following groups participated in the listening sessions:

  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatrists
  • American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
  • American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • Association of Gospel Rescue Missions
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
  • Integrity House
  • National Association of Drug Court Professionals
  • National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
  • New York Therapeutic Communities, Inc.
  • Odyssey House
  • Phoenix House

The Salvation Army

Readout of Secretary Price’s Listening Session with Medical & Healthcare Professionals at the White House

June 16, 2017

Yesterday, in the White House Cabinet Room, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., hosted a listening session with Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and medical and healthcare professionals to discuss the challenges that patients and providers face under our current healthcare system.

Secretary Price began the meeting by voicing his thoughts and prayers for Majority Whip Steve Scalise and other victims of the attack yesterday morning. He expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police and to those who protect us every day for their bravery and willingness to serve. Administrator Verma and Doctors Raymond DeCorte and Joe Uddo, two constituents of Majority Whip Scalise, echoed these thoughts.

Attendees of the listening session included doctors and medical professionals who represent many different specialties. Each shared their unique perspective on how Obamacare has adversely affected their practice and patients. Secretary Price listened to their experiences in complying with overly burdensome Obamacare regulations and treating patients who have either lost their insurance because of Obamacare or who are enrolled in Obamacare, but can’t afford the services they so desperately need. The listening session participants told many similar stories, and each of them stated that now is the time for healthcare reform.

Secretary Price affirmed the Department and President Trump’s commitment to put in place a healthcare system that’s responsive to the needs of patients and a system where doctors, families, and patients are making medical decisions—not Washington, D.C. Secretary Price noted the Administration is committed to improving healthcare in America and to provide individuals and families the relief they so desperately need.

The following individuals participated:

  • Dr. Joseph Abboud – Orthopedic Surgeon, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dr. Ralph Alvarado– Primary Care Doctor and State Senator, Winchester, KY
  • Dr. Robin L. Armstrong – Internist, Houston, TX
  • Dr. David L. Cannon - Orthopedic Surgeon, Germantown, TN
  • Dr. Raymond DeCorte - General Surgeon, Metairie, LA
  • Dr. Ada Fisher – Retired Physician, Salisbury, NC
  • Ms. Tonya Horton – Small Medical Business Owner, Patient, Employer, Bryant, AR
  • Dr. Thomas Little - Cardiologist, Cookeville, TN
  • Dr. Ryan Stanton - Emergency Medical Doctor, Lexington, KY
  • Dr. William Thornbury – Primary Care Physician, Family Practice, Glascow, KY  
  • Dr. Joe Uddo - General Surgeon, Metairie, LA
  • Dr. Jill Vecchio - Radiologist, Denver, CO
  • Dr. Anthony Vintzileos - Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Mineola, NY

Secretary Price Statement on CMS Enrollment and Exchange Reports

June 13, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. issued the following statement regarding compelling data released today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in two new reports related to Obamacare – the Effectuated Enrollment report for the most recent enrollment period and the Health Insurance Exchanges Trends report. The reports show a decline in the number of Americans who have actually purchased coverage on the exchanges, with cost being a primary concern.

“Not surprisingly, as costs continue to go up, fewer Americans can afford to pay more and get less for healthcare. Many individuals and families across the country are tired of having their healthcare options dictated to them by Washington – particularly when those limited options are unaffordable. That’s why every day we are working on behalf of President Trump on solutions that will show a little humility from the federal government, equip states to serve their unique and diverse populations, and put healthcare decisions in the hands of patients, families, and their doctors.”

ONC announces winners of Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge

June 06, 2017

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the winners of the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge.

Winners of this challenge created Model Privacy Notice (MPN) generators that produce a customizable MPN for health information technology (IT) developers, making it easier for consumers to see a product’s privacy and security policies.

“Compared to when the original Model Privacy Notice was released in 2011, the consumer-facing health IT market now features a much larger variety of digital health technologies that collect information,” said Genevieve Morris, principal deputy national coordinator for health IT. “The winners designed innovative tools that will help make privacy notices easier for consumers to understand, so they can know how and why their health information is being shared.”

The winning generators are:

  1. Jason Cronk and Professor Daniel J. Solove’s generator features a side-by-side, live-updating view allowing application developers to see the MPN as they complete the app’s sections. It also clearly shows the developer which sections are completed or require more information. The MPN most successfully combines the clarity and simplicity of a nutrition facts-type label with visual icons that aid comprehension of the privacy concepts. The first-place team, which was awarded $20,000, best specified which terms and language were changed to enhance consumer understanding.
  1. 1upHealth’s team uses a side-by-side view that includes live checking of entered information to verify websites and phone number formats. The generated MPN allows for extensive customization, available in HTML, JSON, and Markdown formats. Detailed interviews and usability testing were held to receive consumer feedback. The second-place team was awarded $10,000.
  1. MadeClear.io's generator features expandable headers allowing developers to easily see how far they have progressed in completing the MPN. The MPN uses alternating background images that help differentiate the sections and colorful icons that add context to the privacy language. The team’s consumer testing included surveys completed by 30 individuals. The third-place submission was awarded $5,000.

The model privacy notice is a voluntary, openly available resource designed to help developers clearly convey information about their privacy and security policies to their users. Similar to the FDA Nutrition Facts Label, the MPN provides a snapshot of a company’s existing privacy practices encouraging transparency and helping consumers make informed choices when selecting products. The MPN does not mandate specific policies or substitute for more comprehensive or detailed privacy policies, nor does it meet the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for a notice of privacy practices.

ONC issued a request for information on March 1, 2016 asking the public what information about privacy and security practices health IT developers should disclose to consumers and what language should be used to describe those practices. ONC received thirteen submissions with broad stakeholder representation - from developer organizations representing over 5,100 members, provider organizations representing over 200,000 providers, and consumer organizations representing patients and consumers across the country. The challenge was launched in December 2016 and leverages updated MPN content developed by ONC, with feedback from the HHS Office for Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and other private and public stakeholders.

A public webinar demonstrating the winning tools will be held on July 12 at 2:00p.m. EDT.

 To access the 2016 MPN content, visit https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/2016_model_privacy_notice.pdf.

Additional information about the MPN is available at https://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/model-privacy-notice-mpn.

More than a name change: AIDS.gov becomes HIV.gov

June 05, 2017

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today officially changed the name of AIDS.gov, the federal government’s leading source for information about HIV, to HIV.gov. The announcement coincides with the 36th anniversary of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s first report of the initial cases of what would become known as AIDS. The name change reflects major scientific advances that have transformed an almost universally fatal disease to a condition that, if diagnosed and treated early and continuously, can be controlled and prevented from progressing to AIDS. In fact, there are more people living with HIV in the United States now than people living with AIDS.

“Much progress has been made in HIV/AIDS research since the disease was first recognized in 1981. Today, lifesaving antiretroviral therapies allow those living with HIV to enjoy longer, healthier lives—an outcome that once seemed unattainable,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The website AIDS.gov has been a valuable resource for those seeking information about HIV/AIDS, and its name change to HIV.gov appropriately reflects our evolution in transforming the pandemic, even as work remains to bring about an end to HIV.”

In 2016, more than 8 million people used the AIDS.gov website and its social media channels to find information about HIV or to find HIV-related programs and services, including HIV testing, medical care and treatment. The name change also embraces the way most people now search online for information about the disease. “HIV” is a much more common Internet search term than “AIDS.”

“The shift to HIV.gov is proactive and inclusive, and it sends a strong, supportive message to the 1.1 million people across America who are living with HIV,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “The number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2014, but progress has not been the same for all communities. HIV.gov will deliver current science, accurate information and links to effective resources for the people who need them most.”

“We’ve made important progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the United States. These improvements are the hard-won result of decades of work on the part of advocates, healthcare providers, researchers, the federal government—and many others—but our work is not done,” said Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. “The newly named website will bring people helpful, timely information to support our collective efforts to sustain and advance our progress in this fight.”

Please visit the new site at HIV.gov and follow its related social media channels.

Price Statement on President Trump’s Paris Agreement Announcement

June 02, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement about President Trump’s announcement on the Paris Agreement:

“The Paris agreement is a bad deal for the American people. I applaud President Trump’s leadership and the actions he is taking.

“At the Department of Health and Human Services, it is our mission to promote and protect the health and well-being of the American people. This includes an already existing, robust commitment to advancing public health security both here at home and through partnerships with other nations.”

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