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Latest News Releases

HHS News Releases


HHS announces the availability of $260 million to fund the Title X family planning program

Friday, February 23, 2018 - 16:15

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $260 million in a new funding opportunity for the Title X family planning program to help improve and expand quality care. The funding opportunity will assist in the establishment and/or operation of voluntary family planning projects that will offer a broad range of family planning methods and services, including information, education and counseling related to family planning, preconception care, contraception, natural family planning and infertility services. Recognizing the announcement has been delayed, HHS is committed to ensuring that services continue unabated. Current grantees received notification today inviting them to submit a request for grant extension, so there is no gap in services. “We encourage all qualified organizations to apply, especially those proposing innovative strategies that would increase the number of clients served and the quality of services provided,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. “We are committed to ensuring that we provide access to quality family planning services to the women and men who depend on this vital public health program.”   In particular, this year’s funding opportunity is seeking applicants that offer a broad range of family planning and related health services tailored to the individual needs of the client and that promote optimal health outcomes. As emphasized in the statutory language governing the program, “none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The funding opportunity further requires that all Title X grantees develop monitoring and reporting policies, consistent with state law, in order to expand assurances that those who enter a Title X service site and who may be victims of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence or human trafficking, are afforded the help and legal protection to which they are entitled.  For the first time, the funding opportunity requires that all staff are annually trained to respond to such needs. Further, building on several years of HHS work to streamline the process of applying for Title X grants and ease burdens on applicants, interested organizations can now submit one application that covers multiple geographic service areas, rather than having to submit multiple applications for different service areas.  This year will involve just one annual funding competition, rather than multiple competitions. This funding announcement covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the six Pacific jurisdictions. The awards are expected to be issued in September of this year. The HHS Office of Population Affairs oversees the Title X family planning program, which currently funds 84 grantees that support nearly 4,000 family planning sites nationwide and provides services to more than 4 million women and men each year. Title X service sites serve a population of mostly female, low-income and young clients. Title X grants are awarded through a competitive process to public and private nonprofit entities. Services funded with Title X grants are provided by state and local public health departments and/or community health, family planning and other private nonprofit agencies. Applications for the Title X family planning services grants are due at 6:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Technical assistance will be provided to those who are interested in applying for grants. For more information about the Title X program services funding opportunity announcement visit: To learn more about the Title X program, visit: To find a family planning clinic in your area, visit: [...]

Trump Administration works to give relief to Americans facing high premiums, fewer choices

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 08:45

In direct response to President Trump’s October 2017 Executive Order, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury (the Departments) issued a proposed rule today that is intended to increase competition, choice, and access to lower-cost healthcare options for Americans. The rule proposes to expand the availability of short-term, limited-duration health insurance by allowing consumers to buy plans providing coverage for any period of less than 12 months, rather than the current maximum period of less than three months. The proposed rule, if finalized, will provide additional options to Americans who cannot afford to pay the costs of soaring healthcare premiums or do not have access to healthcare choices that meet their needs under current law. “Americans need more choices in health insurance so they can find coverage that meets their needs,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “The status quo is failing too many Americans who face skyrocketing costs and fewer and fewer choices. The Trump Administration is taking action so individuals and families have access to quality, affordable healthcare that works for them.” Short-term, limited-duration insurance, which is not required to comply with federal requirements for individual health insurance coverage, is designed to provide temporary coverage for individuals transitioning between healthcare policies, such as an individual in between jobs, or a student taking a semester off from school. Access to these plans has become increasingly important as premiums have more than doubled between 2013 and 2017 in health plans on the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. And half of the counties in America have only one insurance carrier to choose from. “Americans who find themselves between jobs or simply can’t afford coverage because prices are too high will be helped by President Trump’s Healthcare for All Executive Order,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma. “In a market that is experiencing double-digit rate increases, allowing short-term, limited-duration insurance to cover longer periods gives Americans options and could be the difference between someone getting coverage or going without coverage at all.” This announcement builds on the President’s October 2017 Executive Order 13813, “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States,” which directs the Departments to consider proposing regulations or revising guidance to expand the availability of short-term, limited-duration insurance and allow it to cover longer periods. The Departments published a final rule in 2016, which restricted short-term, limited-duration insurance to less than three months. Key stakeholders, including state regulators, have expressed concerns that the current limit could cause harm to some consumers, limit consumer options, and have little positive impact on the risk pools in the long run. Today’s proposed rule would address these concerns by reverting to the previous definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance which permits coverage for nearly a full 12 months. A fact sheet on today’s proposed rule can be found here: The link to the proposed rule can be found here: [...]

Consequences for HIPAA violations don’t stop when a business closes

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 14:45

A receiver appointed to liquidate the assets of Filefax, Inc. has agreed to pay $ 100,000 out of the receivership estate to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in order to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. Filefax, located in Northbrook, Illinois, advertised that it provided for the storage, maintenance, and delivery of medical records for covered entities. Although Filefax shut its doors during the course of OCR’s investigation into alleged HIPAA violations, it could not escape its obligations under the law.

On February 10, 2015, OCR received an anonymous complaint alleging that an individual transported medical records obtained from Filefax to a shredding and recycling facility to sell on February 6 and 9, 2015. OCR opened an investigation, which confirmed that an individual had left medical records of approximately 2,150 patients at the shredding and recycling facility, and that these medical records contained patients’ protected health information (PHI).

OCR’s investigation indicated that between January 28, 2015, and February 14, 2015, Filefax impermissibly disclosed the PHI of 2,150 individuals by leaving the PHI in an unlocked truck in the Filefax parking lot, or by granting permission to an unauthorized person to remove the PHI from Filefax, and leaving the PHI unsecured outside the Filefax facility.

“The careless handling of PHI is never acceptable,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “Covered entities and business associates need to be aware that OCR is committed to enforcing HIPAA regardless of whether a covered entity is opening its doors or closing them. HIPAA still applies.”

Filefax is no longer in business. In 2016, a court in unrelated litigation appointed a receiver to liquidate its assets for distribution to creditors and others.  In addition to a $100,000 monetary settlement, the receiver has agreed, on behalf of Filefax, to properly store and dispose of remaining medical records found at Filefax’s facility in compliance with HIPAA.

The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found on the OCR website at

To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights, and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at

Follow OCR on Twitter at

HHS Secretary Azar Statement on President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 12:45

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement today on President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget:

“The President’s budget makes investments and reforms that are vital to making our health and human services programs work for Americans and to sustaining them for future generations. In particular, it supports our four priorities here at HHS: addressing the opioid crisis, bringing down the high price of prescription drugs, increasing the affordability and accessibility of health insurance, and improving Medicare in ways that push our health system toward paying for value rather than volume.

“This budget supports the hard work the men and women of HHS are already doing toward these goals. In particular, the budget’s efforts to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, especially for America’s seniors, are a reflection of President Trump’s deep commitment to addressing this important issue.”

The HHS Budget in Brief can be found here.

HHS Secretary Azar holds flu briefing with key HHS leaders

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 19:15

On Wednesday, February 7, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar received a briefing on preparedness and response efforts for seasonal and pandemic influenza from Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat, NIH National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec.

Also in attendance and participating were Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, Acting AssistantSecretary for Health Don Wright, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks, and HHS Office of Global Affairs Director Garrett Grigsby, all of whom are participating in flu preparedness and response efforts.

Secretary Azar discussed the opportunity he has had to oversee HHS’s ongoing flu activities since coming onboard at the department, and noted that he worked with many of the public health leaders present for the briefing during his previous time at HHS.

The department has been actively monitoring and responding to this year’s especially severe flu season, which has seen hospitalizations reach the highest levels since HHS began tracking such data closely in 2010 and simultaneous high levels of flu activity in more regions of the country than usual. HHS is also continuing efforts in the U.S. and around the world to build preparedness for outbreaks of pandemic flu strains, such as H7N9.

Dr. Schuchat presented on the status of seasonal flu in the U.S. and pandemic flu around the world, including statistics on intensity of activity, hospitalizations, and mortality, as well as CDC efforts to monitor and coordinate reliable supplies of seasonal flu vaccine and flu antivirals. She noted that information about the effectiveness of this year’s seasonal flu vaccine, which is still available and recommended for almost all Americans, will be released soon.

Dr. Fauci’s briefing covered ongoing research efforts, some supported by HHS, to develop more effective seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines, including a universal flu vaccine. Dr. Kadlec covered efforts being undertaken in conjunction with the private sector, including at HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to develop and procure pandemic flu vaccines in greater volume and with greater effectiveness.

In closing, Secretary Azar and the leaders present agreed to continue working together on this year’s ongoing prevention efforts and noted a number of issues on which to coordinate going forward.

HHS Awards Engineering Blanket Purchase Agreement to CSRA, Leidos, ManTech, and Salient CRGT

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 13:15

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has awarded the third Next Generation Information Technology Services (NGITS) blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to CSRA, Leidos, ManTech, and Salient CRGT. The BPA, with an estimated value of $139 million, provides support for a full spectrum of engineering projects, platforms, and services, to include endpoint, infrastructure, networks, and security. In addition, the BPA establishes a dedicated onsite engineering test laboratory that mirrors the HHS environment to enable successful solutions development and facilitate efficient operations. Leidos won the first task order on the BPA and will provide engineering services to HHS staff divisions and a number of the smaller operating divisions.

The new engineering task order will provide engineering expertise resulting in solutions that support the HHS vision for robust, flexible, efficient, and secure information technology to increase infrastructure performance and to avoid obsolescence. According to Dan Mills, director of enterprise engineering for the Office of Information Technology Infrastructure and Operations (ITIO), “This award will provide the engineering expertise necessary to produce solutions supporting the HHS vision of robust, flexible, efficient, and secure IT.”

HHS OCIO launched the NGITS program last year to provide improved support in IT service delivery, accountability, integration of new and emerging technologies, customer service, and performance measurement of information technology for the Office of the Secretary, its 22 staffing divisions, and more than 12,000 employees. The NGITS program has also awarded BPAs in the areas of IT operations and application hosting. NGITS will award one more BPA this year for program management integration.

The NGITS program offers an improved platform to leverage technology; manage standards, consistency, and activities across divisions; and allow for better services and transparency to HHS customers. “This award provides HHS the opportunity to engineer, test, and integrate innovative technologies to further support the efforts of HHS to improve the well-being of all Americans,” states George Chambers, ITIO executive director.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer advises the Office of the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary for Resources and Technology on matters pertaining to the use of information and related technologies to accomplish Departmental goals and program objectives.

HHS Approves New Healthy Indiana Medicaid Demonstration

Friday, February 2, 2018 - 15:45

INDIANAPOLIS—On Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar joined Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb to announce the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approval of Indiana’s Section 1115 waiver, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan or HIP.

The waiver has now been expanded to include a requirement for work or other forms of community engagement for able-bodied, working age Medicaid enrollees, just the second such Medicaid waiver in history to include this mechanism, which has shown success in other HHS programs at moving beneficiaries from welfare to work.

The Healthy Indiana extension also includes administrative reforms as well as a new funding authority to expand treatment options for Medicaid enrollees struggling with substance abuse, including opioid addiction.

“Today’s approval is the result of the hard work of Governor Holcomb, his team, and our team at CMS, and serves as a testament to Indiana’s ongoing commitment to improving the lives of its Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Secretary Azar. “We look forward to collaborating with Indiana on this next evolution of HIP, which serves as another example of the Trump Administration’s support of state-led efforts and innovative reforms to make our HHS programs really work for Americans.”

“A decade after it launched, Healthy Indiana has become the national model for a state-led, consumer-driven healthcare program that meets citizens’ healthcare needs, provides choices and improves lives,” Governor Holcomb said. “This approval continues coverage for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and unlocks funding to expand resources to help people struggling with addiction.”

On January 11, CMS announced new policy guidance to support state efforts to improve Medicaid enrollee health outcomes and promote independence by incentivizing community engagement among able-bodied, working-age Medicaid beneficiaries. The policy responds to numerous state requests to test programs through Medicaid demonstration projects under which work and other types of community engagement would be a condition of Medicaid coverage for that particular population. 

Indiana’s demonstration program is the second one of its kind to be approved, following Kentucky’s on January 12.

Five breaches add up to millions in settlement costs for entity that failed to heed HIPAA’s risk analysis and risk management rules

Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 10:00

Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) has agreed to pay $3.5 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and to adopt a comprehensive corrective action plan, in order to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules. FMCNA is a provider of products and services for people with chronic kidney failure with over 60,000 employees that serves over 170,000 patients. FMCNA’s network is comprised of dialysis facilities, outpatient cardiac and vascular labs, and urgent care centers, as well as hospitalist and post-acute providers. On January 21, 2013, FMCNA filed five separate breach reports for separate incidents occurring between February 23, 2012 and July 18, 2012 implicating the electronic protected health information (ePHI) of five separate FMCNA owned covered entities (FMCNA covered entities).  The five locations of the breaches were Bio-Medical Applications of Florida, Inc. d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care Duval Facility in Jacksonville, Florida (FMC Duval Facility); Bio-Medical Applications of Alabama, Inc. d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care Magnolia Grove in Semmes, Alabama (FMC Magnolia Grove Facility); Renal Dimensions, LLC d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care Ak-Chin in Maricopa, Arizona (FMC Ak-Chin Facility); Fresenius Vascular Care Augusta, LLC (FVC Augusta); and WSKC Dialysis Services, Inc. d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care Blue Island Dialysis (FMC Blue Island Facility). OCR’s investigation revealed FMCNA covered entities failed to conduct an accurate and thorough risk analysis of potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all of its ePHI. The FMCNA covered entities impermissibly disclosed the ePHI of patients by providing unauthorized access for a purpose not permitted by the Privacy Rule. FMC Ak-Chin failed to implement policies and procedures to address security incidents. FMC Magnolia Grove failed to implement policies and procedures that govern the receipt and removal of hardware and electronic media that contain ePHI into and out of a facility; and the movement of these items within the facility. FMC Duval and FMC Blue Island failed to implement policies and procedures to safeguard their facilities and equipment therein from unauthorized access, tampering, and theft, when it was reasonable and appropriate to do so under the circumstances. FMC Magnolia Grove and FVC Augusta failed to implement a mechanism to encrypt and decrypt ePHI, when it was reasonable and appropriate to do so under the circumstances. “The number of breaches, involving a variety of locations and vulnerabilities, highlights why there is no substitute for an enterprise-wide risk analysis for a covered entity,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “Covered entities must take a thorough look at their internal policies and procedures to ensure they are protecting their patients’ health information in accordance with the law.” In addition to a $3.5 million monetary settlement, a corrective action plan requires the FMCNA covered entities to complete a risk analysis and risk management plan, revise policies and procedures on device and media controls as well as facility access controls, develop an encryption report, and educate its workforce on policies and procedures. The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found on the OCR website at To learn more about health information privacy laws and health information privacy rights, please visit To file a complaint with OCR based on a violation of civil rights, conscience or religious freedom, or health information privacy, visit us at Follow OCR on Twitter at[...]

Statement from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regarding CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 09:15

"This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC Director. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, and the Secretary accepted, her resignation. The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors."

-- HHS Spokesman Matt Lloyd

Statement from HHS Secretary Azar on President Trump’s State of the Union Address

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 22:45

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:

“I commend President Trump for delivering a speech that celebrated the economic boom we have seen under his leadership, which has brought new opportunity and prosperity to the American people. A healthier economy means a healthier America, and we look forward to more such success in the coming year, including through reforms to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

“The President also deserves tremendous credit for his leadership in addressing the opioid crisis that’s hitting communities all across America. During his first year in office, President Trump has brought a new level of awareness and commitment to this cause, and I look forward to expanding and enhancing our aggressive approach to this scourge of addiction and overdose.”


In 2017 under President Trump, among other actions on the opioid epidemic, HHS:

  • Declared a historic nationwide Public Health Emergency regarding the crisis, bringing a new level of coordination and commitment to the issue;
  • Disbursed more than $800 million in grants to fight the opioid crisis, more than any previous year;
  • Unveiled a comprehensive five-point strategy, encompassing better treatment, prevention, and recovery services; better targeting of overdose-reversing drugs; better data on the epidemic; better research on pain and addiction, and better pain management;
  • Approved new Medicaid waivers for two states to expand access to substance abuse treatment and outlined a streamlined process for more such approvals;
  • Began calculating and releasing from CDC monthly provisional data on drug overdose deaths, shortening what had been up to a two-year lag;
  • Clarified privacy regulations to inform hospitals and doctors that they can share information with patients’ families during crisis situations, such as opioid overdoses;
  • Approved through FDA the first monthly formulation of buprenorphine, a key option for medication-assisted treatment of opioids; and
  • Delinked patient scores of hospital pain management from Medicare reimbursement, helping to align payment policies with clinical best practices and address concerns from providers that the prior policy may have driven overprescribing.

In 2018, HHS will continue work on all five points of the strategy, including through developing a large-scale public awareness campaign regarding the dangers of opioid addiction.