Secretary Sebelius highlights 2010 accomplishments of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
New video covers implementation of the Affordable Care Act; efforts to reduce fraud and waste; public health initiatives to address obesity, tobacco use and food safety.
In a new video released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius highlighted the work of HHS over the course of 2010. Sebelius outlined some of the important programs and services that the department provides and discussed some of the new laws that went into effect this year and what they mean for consumers. Sebelius also praised the work of the employees of the department.
"This year, thanks to new laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, HHS was able to take a number of steps that have directly improved the lives, health and security of Americans," said Sebelius. "Through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans have access to health coverage as well as new rights and benefits in their health insurance. Efforts to improve public health and reverse the twin epidemics of obesity and tobacco use in the U.S. made significant progress. HHS emergency response teams and public servants at almost every HHS operating division helped to ease the impact of the earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill off the Gulf Coast. And we end the year with newly enacted legislation that will allow us to improve food safety with important new authorities and changes that are decades overdue. I'm proud of these accomplishments and the men and women in our department who made them possible and remain firmly committed to our mission to provide critical health and human services to the people of this nation."
Watch the Secretary's video message at http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/ .
Some of HHS' 2010 accomplishments include:
- Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: The Patient's Bill of Rights and other new tools and resources are helping hold health insurers accountable and giving consumers more value for their health care dollars. A new website, www.HealthCare.gov , helps consumers take control of their health care and make the choices that are right for them by putting the power of information at their fingertips.
- Supporting Let's Move: With the leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama, new prevention activities are helping address the rising problems of obesity and chronic diseases in America, including Communities Putting Prevention to Work, which is funding some of the most promising local strategies for promoting wellness. Read more about the initiative at www.LetsMove.gov .
- Reducing Fraud and Waste in our Health Care System and Strengthening the Medicare Trust Funds: Anti-fraud efforts are continuing to protect Medicare beneficiaries and the program's trust fund. HHS and the Justice Department held four fraud summits around the U.S. and our joint efforts have resulted in over 500 defendants being charged with defrauding Medicare out of more than $1 billion. Billions have been returned to the Medicare Trust Funds thanks to stepped up efforts by HHS and DOJ. Efforts are continuing to meet the President's challenge to reduce Medicare fee-for-service improper payments by 50 percent by 2012. And the Senior Medicare Patrol is helping form seniors about what they can do to help protect themselves and Medicare from fraud. Read more about the efforts to stop fraud at www.StopMedicareFraud.gov .
- Responding to H1N1 and Seasonal Flu: Working together with the public and private sector on a targeted and fast response helped us avoid the worst predictions for last flu season and the H1N1 epidemic. Also, unprecedented efforts were made to modernize the medical countermeasures pipeline so we can respond faster to flu and other health emergencies in the future. Read more about steps everyone can take to reduce the spread and impact of flu at www.Flu.gov .
- Lowering Tobacco Use: Thanks to legislation signed by President Obama in 2009, we're cracking down on marketing flavored cigarettes to kids and have restricted terms like "light" or "mild." Also, the FDA proposed new graphic warning labels for cigarettes - the most significant update to cigarette warning labels in 25 years. Read more about what the FDA is doing at http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/default.htm .
- Making Care Safer: HHS is working with hospitals across the nation (all 50 states and the District of Columbia) to eliminate serious infections in intensive care unit patients, and is also supporting a grant to Washington State to promote safe surgical care. In addition, we provided consumer friendly safety information to help patients taking blood thinners, including a new video for patients and their families, which is available at http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm .
- Assisting Children and Families During the Recession: Employees at HHS worked with states to fund subsidized employment programs for more than 200,000 jobless parents and disadvantaged youth. These jobs helped families afford the basics while providing the dignity that comes with a job.
- Raising the Bar in Early Childhood Education: We expanded support for early education through increased support for child care and Head Start programs - programs that saw increased demands during the recession. HHS also introduced new regulations that will hold Head Start programs accountable for classroom quality and high standards of program integrity, helping the programs fulfill their mission to help vulnerable children achieve their full potential.
- Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Needs: In partnership with the Department of Defense, HHS created the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to accelerate our efforts to prevent suicide. Bringing together public and private partners, the Alliance has established programs to improve detection of suicide risk and access to care, a national Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK); and systems to track and understand suicides. We have also made strides to support and promote better primary care and behavioral health services for individuals with mental illnesses or substance use disorders.
- Food Safety: We are continuing to monitor the safety of America's food supply, and are working to protect the public health through clear communications about recalls and providing consumers with detailed, up-to-date information on www.FoodSafety.gov .
- Expanding Use of Health Information Technology (HIT): We're eliminating barriers to the meaningful use of HIT with Regional Extension Centers, training for Health IT workforce, Beacon Communities they can use as models, and Health Information Exchanges that allow information sharing with full protections for privacy.And most importantly, the new incentives for doctors and hospitals to use HIT to improve care are beginning to pay off as the number of providers using HIT is on the rise.
- Investing in Research: The first step for many medicines on their way to our pharmacy shelves is a discovery in an NIH-funded laboratory. The last step for all of them is a careful analysis at the FDA. A new partnership between the FDA and NIH will help researchers navigate the regulatory process and give regulators the scientific tools they need to quickly assess a treatment's risks and benefits. For Americans, this is going to mean that new treatments are available, safer and sooner.
- Indian Health Service: The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was permanently authorized as a part of the Affordable Care Act, and updates and modernizes the Indian Health Service (IHS) to address the health needs of eligible American Indians and Alaska Natives. IHS is also working with the Veteran's Administration to better coordinate and collaborate on services to veterans. The IHS Special Diabetes Program for Indians was reauthorized and will continue supporting programs proven to help reduce diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- Gulf Oil Spill Clean-up: After this year's oil spill on the Gulf Coast, HHS deployed senior health officials to ensure health issues were addressed at all levels of the response, including monitoring the health and safety of clean-up workers, providing mental health support to the region, and ensuring the safety of seafood prior to the reopening of the waters for fishing. Read more about the response and recovery efforts at http://www.hhs.gov/gulfoilspill/index.html .
- Assisting Haiti: Following last year's devastating earthquake, HHS helped send hundreds of medical personnel to Haiti and helped assess the country's long-term health needs. Since the recent outbreak of cholera, HHS has helped improve access to treatments and clean drinking water, as well as helping Haiti track and understand the epidemic. HHS also played a critical role in the U.S. government's mission to bring some 1,150 children from Haiti who were previously matched with adoptive families in the United States prior to the earthquake so they could join their new families. Read more about the HHS relief and support activities in Haiti at http://www.hhs.gov/haiti .