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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 18:00

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"

Saturday, July 15, 2017 - 12:30

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[...]



HHS announces $80.8 million in grants for Adult and Family Treatment Drug Courts, and Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

Friday, July 14, 2017 - 11:00

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 17:00

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 13:45

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-Determina[...]



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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 16:45

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

Monday, July 10, 2017 - 14:30

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

Friday, July 7, 2017 - 09:15

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

Friday, June 30, 2017 - 11:00

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 18:15

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