As national health started to take precedence
in the American society the need for the government to take a vital role in
these issues grew. National Health started gaining prominence as early as 1798
when an act was passed for the relief of sick and disabled seamen, which
established a federal network of hospitals for the care of merchant seamen.
Being that health was becoming an important subject in governing of the American
people, government also took on not only the physical side but as far seeing a
need to regulate the products that went inside individuals’ bodies. Which then
led to the pure food and drugs act being passed in 1906,
authorizing the government to monitor the purity of foods and the safety of
medicines. In taking on these issues government knew they would need a
prominent base, that can conduct research and provide aid to protect the
general health and lives of the American people regardless if financially
capable or not. In 1939 the Federal Security Agency was created, bringing
together related federal activities in the fields of health, education, and
social insurance. Thus, the Cabinet-level Department of Health, Education, and
Welfare was created under President Eisenhower, officially coming into
existence April 11, 1953, but the Department of Health and Human Services, official
got its name on May 4, 1980.
The Department of Health and Human
Services oversees the implementation of numerous health and well-fare programs.
Therefore, its mission is to “enhance and protect the health and well-being of
all Americans.” The Agency fulfills this promise “by providing for effective
health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health,
and social services.” Through enacting policies that protect Americans health
and provide essential health benefits to citizens, department of health and
human services allows everyone an opportunity to have basic medical care, specifically
those who may be unable to afford it. To make their goals a reality the
Department of Health and Human Services get their funding from the government. Which
they then use to make the lives of people more prosperous, safe, and healthy.
The current budget for this agency is 69 billion dollars in discretionary budget
and 1,046 billion in mandatory funding to them deliver on the promises they
made to the American people.
In any administration there is
always going to obstacles that must be conquered for that institution to
continue to grow and excel in its original mission. The Department of Health and Human Services
has 11 operating divisions which ranges from the National Institutes of Health,
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Disease control and Prevention, Administration
for Children and Families, Center for Medicare, and Medicaid (most of funding
goes here), and so forth. Also, the agency has 10 regional offices and the
office of secretary. Thereby, that this agency is a cabinet-level department the
secretary to lead this administration is nominated by the president. Eric D.
Hargan is currently the acting secretary in direct relation of the previous secretary
Tom having to resign in 2017. Though this organization had many successes in
the time they have operated what really brought attention to this institution
was when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and then secretary Kathleen
Sebelius did such a tumultuous job unveiling the website for the act. Another
incident that kept this department in the public eye was back in 2017 when secretary
Tom Price had to resign after it was discovered that he was using taxpayer
dollar to charter private planes for his own personal use. The total expense
totaled more than 400,000 dollars. Another issue the department of health and
human services has had to face is the Food and Drug Administration not being
proactive in making sure that companies are being urgent in removing tainted
foods off shelves. Its been reported that even after inspector general of (HHS)
investigated foods between 2012-2015 recalled them there were still companies
who took “average of 57 days to recall items after the F.D.A was apprised of
the potential hazards”1.
Some companies even went has long as 303 days to begin the process. The
Department has come on under some serious scrutiny regarding the current flu
season and their imperfect vaccine and the few lives that been lost in due to
this. President Trump Nominating Alex Azar the ex-executive of Eli Lilly the pharmaceutical
company to be the secretary of Department and Health and Human Services. Alex
Azar nomination has been controversial because many feels how is it that he
will be unbiased in his approach with pharmaceutical companies being that he
comes from that background. This then entails the question of how can he lower
drug prices for the United States when he raised them for Eli Lilly. Additionally,
he disagrees on the idea of and president Trump wanting to negotiate with drug
prices because he feels “For government to negotiate there, we would have to
have a single national formulary that restricted access to all seniors for
medicine. I don’t believe we want to go there in restricting patient access.”2Senator
Bernie is quoted saying “We need an H.H.S secretary who is willing to take on
the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drugs prices,
not one who has financially benefited from this greed”. 3
Overall, I believe the Department
of Health and Human services has been effective in carrying across its original
purpose and done a good job trying to stick to it considering the different obstacles
they had to face. I think it may be some work internally when it comes its divisions
and departments. Ultimately, it more a of a leadership and policies issue that need
fixing rather the whole organization. This agency has provided a lot of aid and
protected the American people and still works to find advancements.
1 1 Kaplan, Sheila. “F.D.A.
Leaves Tainted Foods on Shelves Too Long, Report Finds.” The New York
Robert. “Trump Likes Drug Price Negotiations; His Nominee for Health
Secretary Doesn’t.” The New York Times, 2018, 2.
3 Pear, Robert. “He
Raised Drug Prices at Eli Lilly. Can He Lower Them for the U.S.?” The New
York Times, 2017, 3.