HHS Bypasses CDC in COVID-19 Data Collection, Sparking Concerns

On July 10, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new guidance that instructed hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in reporting COVID-19 data and instead send the information directly to the Department through a relatively new system called HHS Protect. The change has raised concerns among many public health and science stakeholder groups that it could signal an effort to sideline the CDC in responding to the pandemic and to limit the data available to the public. Prior to the change, hospitals submitted COVID-19 information to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network…

Alex Azar, Former Pharmaceutical Executive, Nominated to Lead HHS

President Trump has nominated Alex Azar to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would include oversight of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), among other federal agencies. Azar served as general counsel and deputy secretary to the Department under the George W. Bush administration and served as the president of Lilly Co., part of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co., until earlier this year. Azar’s nomination comes following former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s resignation after news surfaced of improper use of private jets for government…

HHS Requests Comments on Draft Strategic Plan

The Department of Health and Human Services has invited comments on its draft strategic plan for fiscal years (FY) 2018-2022. The plan describes how the Department plans to advance its mission according to five strategic goals: “(1) Reform, Strengthen, and Modernize the Nation’s Health Care System; (2) Protect the Health of Americans Where They Live, Learn, Work, and Play; (3) Strengthen the Economic and Social Well-Being of Americans across the Lifespan; (4) Foster Sound, Sustained Advances in Sciences; and (5) Promote Effective and Efficient Management and Stewardship.” HHS is accepting comments through October 26, 2017. More information is available in…

HHS Seeks Nominations for New Pain Management Task Force

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting nominations for members of their new Pain Management Task Force. The Task Force was announced on August 25 by HHS Secretary Tom Price and is charged with developing best practices for prescribing pain medication and managing pain. The Task Force will be a joint effort with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and is seeking membership from diverse disciplines and views, including experts and patients in pain management, addiction, mental health, minority health, and more. Nominations must be received by September 27, 2017. More information can be found in…

NCHS Releases 40th Health, United States Report

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released the 40th edition of one of its flagship publications, Health, United States, the “report card” on the nation’s health. Health, United States, 2016 compiles federal data on a wide range of topics related to morbidity, mortality, health care utilization and access, health risk factors, prevention, health insurance, and personal health care expenditures. The 2016 edition includes a chartbook that highlights long-term trends over the past 40 years related to infant mortality, leading causes of death, life expectancy, poisoning deaths, and smoking. The complete report is available on the NCHS website. Back…

AHRQ Advisory Committee Seeking Nominations

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is accepting nominations for potential new members of the National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality, the scientific advisory body for AHRQ. Candidates should have experience with “(1) the conduct of research, demonstration projects, and evaluations with respect to health care; (2) the fields of health care quality research or health care improvement; (3) the practice of medicine; (4) other health professions; (5) representing the private health care sector (including health plans, providers, and purchasers) or administrators of health care delivery systems; (6) the fields of health care economics, information systems,…

Health and Human Services Solicits Comments on Healthy People 2030

Every decade, the Healthy People Initiative, part of the Office of Disease Prevention and Promotion of the Department of Health and Human Services, develops a new set of science-based national objectives with the goal of improving the health of all Americans. The Department has started to solicit written comments on the development of Healthy People 2030. Comments are sought on the framework, vision, mission, and overarching goals of the initiative. Comments must be submitted by September 29, 2017.  The full solicitation can be found here. Back to this issue’s table of contents. 

Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services Seeks Members

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking seven non-Federal members for the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services. The 22-member Council consists of 12 non-federal members who fall within six categories: dementia caregivers; health care providers; researchers with dementia-related expertise in basic, translational, clinical, or drug development science; voluntary health association representatives; representatives of state health departments; and dementia patient advocates, including an advocate currently living with the disease. Nominations are due June 16, 2017. For more information, see the announcement. Back to this issue’s table of contents.

HHS Secretary Appears Before House Appropriations Subcommittee, Suggests NIH Budget Cuts to Come From “Efficiencies” in Indirect Costs

On March 29, newly appointed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) former Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) made his first appearance before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Welcoming the Secretary, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) began the hearing by pointing out that the proposed cuts in the Budget Blueprint (aka “skinny budget”) released by the Administration on March 16 “are extensive and span the reach of [the] agency.” Cole asked Price how the Department intends to solve “some of the challenges” the budget poses to HHS, including…

Tom Price Confirmed as Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), an orthopedic surgeon and a six-term member of the House of Representatives, was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) by a party-line vote of 52 to 47 in the late hours of February 10. Price, who most recently served as chair of the House Budget Committee, is fiscally conservative and is considered a stern foe of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and abortion rights. However, he has been mostly supportive of increasing funding for federal research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, which is one of the agencies under HHS’ jurisdiction. Rep….


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