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USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities.

Article / Review by on January 1, 2011 – 1:10 amNo Comments

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  1. USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  2. USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
  3. USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities.

USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities.

> USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 28, 2009. As Secretary, she leads the principal agency charged with keeping Americans healthy, ensuring they get the health care they need, and providing children, families, and seniors with the essential human services they depend on. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.

Since taking office, Secretary Sebelius has been a leader on some of the Obama administration’s top priorities. As the country’s highest-ranking health official, she is guiding the implementation of the historic Affordable Care Act.  She has also been at the forefront of efforts to build a 21st century health care system, from putting a new focus on prevention and wellness to promoting electronic medical records to expanding the primary care workforce.  In 2010, Modern Healthcare named her America’s second most powerful person in health care.

“When we talk about health care, we always keep in mind that we are not just talking about saving money or increasing efficiency.  We are also talking about providing a higher quality of life.  When people are healthy, they miss fewer days of work and get more done.  They spend more time at home and less time in doctors’ offices.  They can take care of their grandkids.  They can play softball…They can get a good night of sleep. ” – Kathleen Sebelius, The Commonwealth Fund’s 12th Annual Symposium on Health Care Policy

USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities.

> USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities. Strategic Initiatives.


At the Department of Health and Human Services, our mission is to help provide the building blocks that Americans need to live healthy, successful lives.  We fulfill that mission every day by providing millions of children, families, and seniors with access to high-quality health care, by helping people find jobs and parents find affordable child care, by keeping the food on Americans’ shelves safe and infectious diseases at bay, and by pushing the boundaries of how we diagnose and treat disease.

To achieve these goals, we must always keep an eye on the future – to prepare for the next public health emergency, to pursue the next lifesaving cure, and to support the development of the next generation of Americans.  But we must also frequently look closer at old programs and existing services and ask:  What needs to be changed?  How can we serve Americans better?  What can be done less expensively, faster and more transparently?

These priorities reflect both considerations – a clear-eyed view of the new investments we will need to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new decade, and a tough-minded assessment about how we can reform and refocus existing programs to make an even bigger difference in Americans’ lives.

Together, they form our vision for how our department can contribute to an even stronger, healthier, and more prosperous America in the years to come.

Transform Health Care

With the Affordable Care Act, HHS has an opportunity to improve the health of millions of Americans. As the principal Federal agency in charge of improving Americans’ health and implementing the Affordable Care Act, HHS will seek to drive down costs, put more money in the hands of the American people, and ensure all Americans receive the health care services they need and deserve. These actions will increase transparency, eliminate waste, and put Americans back in charge of their health care.

– Make Coverage More Secure for Those Who Have Insurance; Extend Affordable Coverage to the Uninsured
HHS will enroll eligible children and hard-to-serve populations in health insurance programs; make coverage more stable and secure through insurance market reforms; and establish health insurance exchanges that allow individuals and small businesses to compare plans, buy insurance at affordable prices, and access subsidized health insurance coverage.

– Reduce Health Care Costs while Promoting High-Value, Effective Care
HHS will strengthen program integrity efforts that combat Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP fraud, waste, and abuse; move Medicare to a system that rewards efficient, effective care and reduces delivery system fragmentation; better align Medicare reimbursement rates with provider costs; and encourage widespread adoption and meaningful use of health information technology while ensuring the privacy and security of electronic health records.

– Emphasize Primary Care, Prevention and Wellness
HHS will establish Medicare and Medicaid payment and delivery system policies that value primary care and promote prevention and wellness; develop programs that expand the primary care workforce and encourage health care providers to practice in health professional shortage areas; and promote healthy lifestyles, emotional health, and evidence-based disease prevention programs.

– Improve Health Care Quality and Patient Safety
HHS will support patient-centered research; implement payment reforms that reward quality care and reduce health care-associated infections; and institute delivery system reforms that encourage care coordination and improved patient outcomes.

– Ensure Access to Quality, Culturally Competent Care for Vulnerable Populations
HHS will institute policies that encourage care management for patients eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and patients with chronic illnesses; reduce disparities associated with patients’ gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status; ensure parity for mental and substance use disorders in health insurance; improve early detection and treatment of mental and substance use disorders; and promote coordinated, evidence-based care for individuals with behavioral health issues.

– Promote Community Living
HHS will improve the accessibility and quality of health and support services to enable people with disabilities and seniors with impaired functioning to live in community settings.


Implement the Recovery Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) was designed to create and save jobs, give families immediate relief, and make investments that lay the foundation for long-term economic growth.

HHS is playing a major role in all of these aspects of the Recovery Act by helping to create jobs in industries from health care to research and development; supporting struggling families through the provision of health insurance and subsidized employment opportunities; and making long-term investments in areas such as health information technology, biomedical and comparative effectiveness research, and prevention and wellness efforts.

These early investments in improving our health system in the Recovery Act will serve as the cornerstone of HHS’s efforts to implement the new health reform law and put Americans back in control of their own health care.  To get the most out of these investments, HHS needs to award Recovery Act funds as rapidly as possible while ensuring that funds are spent wisely and that the public can follow the Department’s progress.

HHS has established the following key Secretarial strategies for the ongoing implementation of the Recovery Act.  These strategies will ensure that HHS makes great strides in improving access to health and social services, simulating job creation, and transforming our health care system.

– Award Funds Expeditiously to States and Local Communities
Overall, the Recovery Act enables HHS to award $142 billion; HHS is putting these funds to work as expeditiously as possible while maintaining high standards of program quality and integrity.  In the first year, HHS has obligated $70 billion and will be announcing and awarding an additional $32 billion in 2010 and $40 billion in the 2011-2019 period.

– Measure Program Performance and Ensure Program Integrity
The Recovery Act invests billions of dollars in HHS programs, so it is incumbent on HHS and its agencies to ensure that these funds are spent wisely and for the purposes intended by the Recovery Act.  All Recovery Act funds have performance targets and goals associated with them.  HHS will ensure that funds are invested appropriately and will collect information about program performance to track achievements.

– Inform the Public About Results
As its grantees and contractors implement programs funded by the Recovery Act, HHS will provide information about program performance to the public, members of the Congress, and state and local communities


Promote Early Childhood Health and Development

Children’s early experiences are critical in shaping the foundation for their long-term development and growth.  Young children are capable of tremendous growth and resilience, even in the face of adversity.  Nurturing and responsive relationships with parents and caregivers, and challenging and engaging learning environments at home and in early care and education settings can help promote positive outcomes in young children.  HHS is committed to providing high-quality early care and education for young children as well as to helping parents support children’s health and development.

– Improve Early Learning Program Quality and Young Children’s School Readiness Outcomes
HHS will work to foster high quality in its early care and education programs, including Early Head Start, Head Start and the Child Care and Development Fund.  HHS will revise the Head Start Program Performance Standards and improve training for teachers and program directors, utilizing the latest research.  HHS will ensure that Head Start programs meet the educational, health, and nutritional needs of the children and families they serve.  HHS will promote the use of Quality Rating Improvement Systems in child care programs, which can provide families with valuable information about the quality of child care providers while encouraging providers to invest in quality improvements and assisting them in such efforts.

– Support the Coordination of Services for Young Children and Their Families
HHS will encourage states to bring together key decisionmakers to improve early education across settings (e.g., prekindergarten, private preschools, Head Start, center-based child care, and family child care) through the State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood, a new effort funded under the Recovery Act.  HHS will identify strategies for promoting high-quality systems of early learning across settings in states through the Early Learning and Development Inter-Departmental Initiative.  These efforts can foster state and local connections between early learning programs and those providing high-quality health, nutrition, mental health, and family support services, as well as connections between early learning programs and elementary schools.

– Increase Access to High-Quality Programs for Vulnerable Young Children and Families
HHS will increase access to early learning programs as well as home visiting programs that can help parents respond to their children’s developmental and health needs.  Revisions to the Head Start Program Performance Standards and other efforts by the Department will ensure programs are available to respond to the unique needs of special populations, such as dual language learners, children with disabilities, and American Indian and Alaska Native children.  HHS will develop place-based strategies and encourage systemwide investments for serving children from birth to age eight in low-income and resource-poor communities through the Early Learning Communities Initiative.

– Ensure that Young Children’s Home Experiences Support Children’s Learning and Healthy Development
HHS will strengthen home visitation services provided by states to families of young children through implementation of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program funded in the Affordable Care Act.  Revised Head Start Program Performance Standards will emphasize encouraging family engagement in children’s learning through support for partnerships between early childhood programs, parents, and families and through support for family literacy activities


Help Americans Achieve and Maintain Healthy Weight

Today, about two-thirds of U.S. adults and almost one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, increasing their risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, and arthritis.  Almost 10 percent of all medical spending goes to treat obesity-related conditions.  In order to reverse the obesity epidemic in the United States, HHS must employ a comprehensive approach that includes both clinical and public health strategies and touches people where they live, work, learn, and play.  In support of nutritional health and a healthy weight for all Americans, HHS has identified the following set of actions for all to achieve a healthy weight, reversing obesity, at any age and stage of life.

– Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child Care Settings
HHS will improve program standards for nutrition, physical activity, and television viewing time and will promote adoption of these standards in child care settings through state licensing programs.  HHS also will support access to safe, developmentally appropriate play spaces for children’s physical activity.  The Department will expand proven Head Start health programs to child care centers and other early childhood settings; implement assessment tools in funded programs; and provide a focal point for information about nutrition, physical activity, and television time.

– Promote Healthy Behaviors at School
HHS, working collaboratively with the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture, will develop and implement school-based interventions to improve school food, nutritional health, and physical activity.  By revitalizing the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and promoting the President’s Fitness Challenge, HHS will renew attention to children’s fitness and nutritional health.

– Become a Model Healthy Worksite and Promote Workplace Wellness
HHS will identify and implement policy changes that help employees make healthy choices and will help workplaces across the Nation to become healthier by promoting proven programs like LEANWorks!  This free resource helps worksites design obesity prevention and control programs.

– Promote Healthy Weight through Medical Settings
The Department will develop training tools to enhance awareness, knowledge, and skills for health care providers and others.  HHS will describe covered obesity-related services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and will emphasize healthy weight interventions in pilot and demonstration programs.  HHS also will support new health services research and programs focused on healthy weight in priority populations, increasing understanding of the forces contributing to obesity, and developing and implementing strategies for the prevention and treatment of obesity.

– Promote Community-wide Policies and Interventions that Work
HHS will implement interventions that improve physical activity and nutrition through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative and will work to identify and disseminate model programs that work across domains in a community.  A childhood obesity prevention and reduction demonstration project will connect the clinical care and community service systems to help children achieve and maintain healthy weight and good nutrition.

– Empower Consumers to Make Healthy Choices in the Marketplace
HHS will help consumers understand nutrition information on packaged foods by working with industry to develop new guidance for front-of-pack nutrition labeling.  Health reform provisions will enable calorie information on menus at chain restaurants and vending machines to be shared.  In addition, HHS will collaborate with its public and private sector partners to encourage the reduction of salt and trans fats in the food supply.


Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general.  Quitting smoking has both immediate and long-term benefits for Americans and their loved ones.  Despite progress in reducing tobacco use, more than 20 percent of Americans still smoke, and smoking rates that have been falling for decades have now plateaued.  The good news is that HHS knows what it will take to get those numbers dropping again—comprehensive, sustained, and accountable tobacco control efforts based on evidence-based interventions.

HHS has incorporated the following set of actions into its Tobacco Strategic Action Plan and will implement these activities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

– Strengthen the Implementation of Evidence-based Tobacco Control Interventions and Policies in States and Communities
HHS will continue to support efforts to build state and local capacity to implement proven policy interventions.  HHS efforts will include supporting comprehensive quit line services; focusing greater attention on populations with a disproportionate burden of use and dependence; and increasing local, state, and tribal enforcement of tobacco regulation.

– Change Social Norms Around Tobacco Use
HHS will develop a comprehensive communication agenda to promote a culture change around tobacco use, including national campaigns to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use, and will increase knowledge about the evidence base for, and availability of, treatment options.  HHS will unify communication and education campaigns employed across agencies.

– Accelerate Research to Expand the Science Base and Monitor Progress
HHS will develop and implement new research and surveillance activities to address gaps in knowledge about what works in tobacco prevention and control, including in regulatory science, evolving product changes, industry practices, and public perception.  We will also develop new prevention and treatment interventions for high-risk populations, and remove barriers to accessing these interventions.

– Leverage HHS Systems and Resources to Create a Society Free of Tobacco-related Disease and Death
HHS will ensure that its health care providers offer cessation advice and referrals; enhance health care professionals’ knowledge and adoption of effective treatments; and provide more powerful incentives to health care providers and others to promote cessation treatment.


Protect the Health and Safety of Americans in Public Health Emergencies

Over the past decade, HHS has improved the Nation’s ability to address the public health and medical consequences of large-scale emergencies, including behavioral health impacts on communities and responders. Nonetheless, many challenges remain. HHS has developed a National Health Security Strategy to guide efforts to address the current gaps in national, state, local, and tribal preparedness and response capabilities as well as to build and foster more resilient communities and individuals. HHS has identified key strategic areas within the National Health Security Strategy to improve its ability to prepare and protect Americans in public health emergencies.

– Foster Informed, Empowered Individuals and Communities
HHS will promote community empowerment and support efforts to develop community plans; community capabilities to shelter, sustain themselves, and provide medical and other care; and active community engagement in local decisionmaking.

– Develop and Maintain the Workforce Needed for National Health Security
HHS will promote efforts to develop a strong, well-trained workforce able to mount an effective response, including support for improvements in preparedness-related education, additional hiring of qualified staff, and preregistration of competent volunteers.

– Ensure Situational Awareness
HHS will improve the Nation’s ability to understand and use information related to health threats as well as health system and response resources.  HHS will also improve information sharing across Federal, state, and local entities to create a common picture of the incident and operating environment.

– Foster Integrated, Scalable Health Care Delivery Systems
HHS will work to improve the ability of the health care system to expand its efforts in mass care situations while ensuring provision of the highest standard of care possible for the greatest number of patients.  HHS will work to identify and develop strategies to meet emergency response for scarce resources (e.g. blood, cellular products, and tissues) or items that can not be stockpiled. HHS will also work to increase public understanding and use of self-triage and self-care tools that reduce health care system demands.

– Ensure Timely and Effective Communications
HHS will work to ensure secure, sustainable, and redundant systems for sharing of information both among responders at all levels of government and between responders and the public.  HHS will strive to improve communications, especially with respect to underserved populations, such as those with limited English proficiency, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from diverse cultural origins,  across all sectors, from government emergency response systems to private sector and community-based organizations.

– Promote an Effective System for Developing, Manufacturing, and Dispensing Drugs, Devices, and Medical Supplies for Use in Response to a Public Health Emergency
HHS will work toward integrating efforts for countermeasure research, manufacturing, dispensing, and safety and effectiveness tracking.  HHS will foster stronger engagement and participation with all stakeholders and will prioritize investments with the greatest potential to improve national health security, prevent or limit the spread of disease, and limit the clinical impact of a health incident.

– Ensure Prevention or Reduction of Environmental and Other Emerging Threats to Health
HHS will work to reduce the emerging threats from common pathogens in our food, water, biologicals (blood, organs, tissue and vaccines), and air through improved information sharing, surveillance, and coordinated action across human, animal, and food and agricultural agencies and sectors.

– Incorporate Post-Incident Health Recovery into Planning and Response
HHS will work to ensure that recovery is included in planning at all levels and will promote the goal of ensuring that individuals and communities can recover from an incident through, at a minimum, the restoration of services, providers, facilities, and infrastructure.

– Work with Cross-Border and Global Partners to Enhance National, Continental, and Global Health Security
HHS, acting in concert with other U.S. Government agencies, will work closely with global partners to address common threats around the world, enhance national capacities to detect and respond to these threats, and learn from each other’s experiences.

– Ensure that All Systems that Support National Health Security Are Based Upon the Best Available Science, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement Methods
HHS will develop and implement a research and evaluation agenda to support identification of empirical standards, policy, and guidance to increase the knowledge base for preparedness, response, and recovery.


Accelerate the Process of Scientific Discovery to Improve Patient Care

As part of its mission to improve the health of the American people, HHS invests in each step of the process that starts with basic scientific discovery and ends with the development and provision of better diagnostics, treatments, and preventive strategies to significantly improve patient care.  These steps can be very complex, which can mean that promising scientific discoveries move quite slowly toward practical application as a new diagnostic, treatment, or proven prevention regimen.  The good news is that HHS has learned what problems can arise in this process and has begun to develop solutions.  The Department has identified the steps necessary to advance scientific breakthroughs to improve patient care.

– Accelerate Biomedical Discovery through Innovation
HHS will accelerate biomedical discovery through innovative methodologies and technology.  HHS will continue to support fundamental discoveries that expand the knowledge base in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.  Also of critical importance is ongoing cross-agency development of information systems capable of storing, organizing, and sharing vast amounts of data with researchers around the globe, which will accelerate scientific discovery.

– Enable Efficient Regulatory Review
HHS will facilitate fast-tracking of medical innovations to integrate biomedical research planning and regulatory review.  HHS also will support training of regulatory scientists to develop the skills necessary to integrate research planning and regulation of resulting biomedical products.  HHS will develop cross-agency initiatives to support regulatory science to enhance the safety, quality, and efficiency of clinical research and medical product approval.

– Efficiently Translate Novel Research Discoveries into Therapies
HHS is exploring new partnerships that can help academic investigators to translate basic science into new therapies—effectively “de-risking” projects for commercial development.  HHS is providing researchers with large-scale screening resources to facilitate identification of small molecules that may have activity against a disease target.  HHS is also providing resources for preclinical evaluation of promising therapeutics and is building a national network of clinical research centers to enable clinical trials of promising compounds.

– Support the Science of Health Care Reform
HHS supports patient-centered research to identify high-quality, high-value drugs, surgeries, and other treatment options.  HHS also supports research on personalized medicine, behavioral science, health economics, and health disparities, and will conduct health services research, an essential facet of a complete evidence-based health care system.  By examining and enhancing the most effective ways to integrate preventive, screening, diagnostic, and treatment health services into community practice, HHS further supports more effective individualized prevention efforts, as well as methods to deliver the right care to the right patient at the right time, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

– Disseminate Health Information to the Public
HHS will develop a comprehensive plan for more effectively disseminating health information to the public.  Importantly, HHS will carefully examine the effectiveness of information tailored to underserved populations, which often have greater risk of certain diseases and conditions.  HHS will ensure that information reaches underserved populations to improve health status.


Implement a 21st Century Food Safety System

Americans count on the safety of their food.  Yet, all too often, outbreaks of foodborne illness threaten our health.  It has been estimated that one in four Americans suffers from a foodborne illness each year.

Over the last decade, new challenges have emerged from novel disease agents, increasing globalization of the food supply chain, and an aging U.S. population.  Concurrently over the last decade, HHS also has improved techniques and surveillance to detect foodborne illness.  HHS has an urgent mission to strengthen the food safety system, which will require Federal leadership and strong cooperation from the regulatory, public health, public, and private sectors.

Working in collaboration with Federal food safety partners and the President’s Food Safety Working Group, HHS is working to develop a food safety system that is flexible and responsive to current and emerging threats in the 21st century.

– Prevent Harm to Consumers from Foodborne Illness

Too often in the past, the food safety system has focused on reacting to problems rather than preventing harm in the first place.  HHS will prioritize prevention and implement sensible measures designed to prevent problems before they occur.  Key to this approach will be setting rigorous standards for food safety and working with the food industry to ensure it meets these standards.

– Improve Data Sources and Analysis for Effective Food Safety Inspections and Enforcement

High-quality information will help determine which foods are at highest risk; which solutions should be put into place to reduce risk; and which agencies should be responsible.  Such information comes from routine surveillance, outbreak investigations, and scientific studies.

HHS, working in tandem with its Federal, state, and local regulatory and public health partners, will prioritize crucial inspection and enforcement activity across the world; support safety efforts by states, localities, and businesses at home; and enhance data collection and analysis to guide these efforts and evaluate their outcomes.  HHS agencies will work together to maximize interagency collaboration and accountability.

– Identify and Quickly Stop Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Our goal is to limit the number, scale, and duration of foodborne outbreaks.  HHS will work with its Federal, state, and local partners to strengthen public health and regulatory systems to enhance our ability to detect outbreaks and to detect them faster, use food tracing systems to identify source and distribution of product, remove product from the market, and conduct root cause analysis to correct the problem and inform future prevention efforts.  HHS will also work on communications following an outbreak to help restore consumer confidence in the food supply.


Ensure Program Integrity and Responsible Stewardship

HHS is committed to being a responsible steward of every dollar in the HHS budget. America’s hard-working citizens deserve to know that the Department is spending the monies they are investing in a healthier and brighter future as carefully and productively as the dollars they spend in their own family budgets—with accountability for results, honest disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, no allowance for waste or abuse, and ensuring that the public trust is awarded only to those individuals, institutions, grantees, and service providers with the highest ethical standards.

HHS is therefore launching a Departmentwide program integrity initiative to ensure that every program and office in HHS prioritizes the identification of systemic vulnerabilities and opportunities for waste and exploitation, and implements heightened oversight.  HHS will consult closely with OIG to help review plans across each part of the Department and create a first-time ever Secretary’s Council on Program Integrity.

The Council on Program Integrity will look at all areas within the Department – from Medicare and Medicaid, to Head Start and LIHEAP, to medical research and the public health grants – to conduct risk assessments of programs or operations most vulnerable to waste, fraud, or abuse; enhance existing program integrity initiatives or create new ones; share best program integrity practices throughout HHS; and measure the results of our efforts.


> USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary’s Priorities. Key Inter-Agency Collaborations.

Reduce Teen and Unintended Pregnancy

Teen parents and their children are more likely to face a range of challenges and adverse conditions when it comes to the health and economic security of themselves and their children.  More than 60 percent of teen mothers live in poverty at the time of their child’s birth, and there are substantial disparities in the educational attainment of teen mothers compared with young women who delay childbearing.  Children of teen parents face significant disadvantages as well, including lower average school achievement and greater risk of abuse and neglect.

In addressing these strategies, HHS will draw upon the expertise of the public health and human services parts of the Department, including the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS).

– Invest in Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Reduction Strategies
HHS will employ a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to reducing teen pregnancy.  Under the new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, HHS will fund the replication of models that have been rigorously evaluated and shown to be effective at reducing teen pregnancy or other behavioral risk factors as well as research and demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies to prevent teen pregnancy.  By conducting high-quality evaluations of both types of approaches—those replicating evidence-based models and innovative strategies—this initiative will expand the evidence base and uncover new ways to address this issue.  Additional funding made under the Affordable Care Act will provide formula grants to states to fund evidence-based models and test new strategies as well.  ACF, ASPE, CDC, and OPHS will each play a role in these efforts.

– Target Populations at Highest Risk for Teen Pregnancy
HHS efforts will focus on demographic groups who have the highest teen pregnancy rates, including Hispanic, African-American, and American Indian youth, and will target services to high-risk, vulnerable, and culturally underrepresented youth populations.  Such populations include youth in foster care, runaway and homeless youth, youth with HIV/AIDS, youth living in areas with high teen birth rates, delinquent youth, and youth who are disconnected from usual service delivery systems.

– Increase Access to Clinical Services
HHS will ensure access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services, including patient education and counseling; sexually transmitted infection (STI) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, testing, and referral.  Community health centers, Title X family planning clinics, and public programs can provide services.  HHS-funded health services under the Title X family planning program will encourage family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and provide counseling to minors on ways to resist attempts to coerce them into engaging in sexual activity.

Support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Over the nearly 30 years since the AIDS epidemic began, HHS has been working closely with its partners to respond to the HIV and AIDS crisis in the United States.  Because of these efforts, HHS now has better diagnostic capabilities that enable testing of more people, more quickly.  HHS also has more effective treatments that allow people living with HIV to enjoy longer, healthier lives.

However, HIV and AIDS continue to exact a significant toll on Americans of all ages.  An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV today.  The face of HIV and AIDS has also changed over the last three decades—from a disease primarily affecting younger men who have sex with men to a disease that disproportionately affects Black and Latino men and women, men who have sex with men in all racial and ethnic groups, and older Americans.  HHS must expand its efforts to prevent new infections, ensure access to appropriate care and treatment for those living with HIV and AIDS, and focus on those communities most affected.

HHS is participating with Federal partner agencies and the White House Office of National AIDS Policy on the development of a National HIV/AIDS Strategy.  HHS will work to reduce the number of new HIV cases in the United States; increase access to care and optimize health outcomes for people living with HIV; and reduce HIV-related disparities, including disparities related to infection rates and access to treatments.

Implementing this National Strategy will require coordinated effort across the U.S. Government and with partners in the public and private sectors.  HHS will support new research at NIH; enhanced surveillance, behavioral research, and prevention activities at CDC; regulatory work at FDA; and support for care, treatment, and wraparound services provided by HRSA and SAMHSA.  OCR works to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability, including HIV/AIDS, by enforcing Federal laws prohibiting such discrimination by providers and other entities receiving Federal financial assistance.  Other HHS agencies and offices, including AHRQ, ACF, AoA, CMS, IHS, and OPHS will contribute significantly to HHS’s prevention and treatment efforts.  HHS also will work closely with other Federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Labor.

– Learning More About What Works to Prevent HIV Transmission
HHS-supported research has resulted in new AIDS drugs and HIV diagnostics, as well as new program strategies for addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic.  However, more work is needed to identify vaccine candidates and better treatments.  HHS also needs to enhance surveillance and support significant behavioral research to identify effective interventions to prevent the spread of HIV in high-risk and other affected groups.

– Promoting HIV Testing and Making People Aware of Their Status
Individuals who know their status can be linked to care and treatment resources earlier in their course of disease, which will improve their likelihood of living healthier, longer lives.  When HIV-positive individuals know their status, they are also less likely to engage in risky behaviors that will transmit HIV to others.  HHS will increase support for efforts to increase routine testing of adults and pregnant women so that more people know their status.

– Linking People Living with HIV to Prevention, Care, and Treatment
In addition to increasing testing, HHS must improve linkages to care and treatment for those who test positive for HIV.  HHS will work to improve coordination and referral systems that link people living with HIV and AIDS to medical care, prevention information to reduce onward transmission, and relevant wraparound services, such as counseling and treatment for mental and substance use disorders.
Improve Global Health

Global health plays a critical role in the national security of the U.S. population and in the security of populations worldwide.  As our world and economies become more integrated, we must think about health globally, because diseases know no borders.

The President understands the significant role the U.S. Government plays in improving global health.  Accordingly, he has called for increased investments in global health programs and an overall reorientation of all U.S. Government health assistance. New emphasis is being placed on ownership of programs by the countries we are working in, strategic integration and coordination across the activities and agencies, programming that focuses on women, strengthening of host countries’ health systems, and a focus on monitoring and evaluation.

HHS has significant scientific, technical, and regulatory expertise in global health matters.  Its experience helps ensure that activities are informed by research, disease surveillance, public health service delivery, medical product and food safety, and best practices to strengthen health systems.  HHS is collaborating with its partners and the White House on several issues in global health, including advancing global pandemic preparedness and response, combating bioterrorism, and implementing the President’s Global Health Initiative.

The Global Health Initiative invests $63 billion over 6 years in a comprehensive approach to our health assistance programs, recognizing that healthy societies are stable societies.  Many effective, long-standing programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative, are part of the Global Health Initiative.  HHS, through ASPR, CDC, NIH, FDA, HRSA, and other agencies and offices, is pursuing the following actions to improve global health.

– Combating Infectious Diseases through Rapid Identification and Control Efforts
HHS is working with countries to promote information sharing about known diseases and public health events of international concern.  As we saw with the H1N1 public health emergency, rapid identification and control of emerging infectious diseases help promote health abroad, prevent the international spread of disease, and protect the health of the U.S. population.

– Combating Non-Infectious Diseases through Strategic Partnerships
Chronic, noncommunicable diseases, including diabetes and obesity, tobacco use, and mental and substance use disorders are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.  HHS is collaborating with other countries to implement tested strategies to fight these and other noncommunicable diseases.

– Developing a Global Health Strategy
HHS, under the leadership of its Office of Global Health Affairs, is implementing a coordinated global health strategy. This strategy maximizes HHS’s substantial global health assets and brings cohesion to its work, in support of the President’s efforts to improve global health.

Foster Open Government

President Obama is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.  The key elements of Open Government include:
– Transparency – providing information to the public that can be used to hold the Government accountable and generate significant benefit for citizens;
– Participation – enabling citizens to contribute their ideas to the work of government; and
– Collaboration – providing opportunities for internal and external stakeholders to work together toward better solutions.

Above all, an open government is a government that works better– one that leverages the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration to deliver better results to the American people.

To advance these principles, the President has issued an Open Government Directive, which directs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to promote transparency, participation, and collaboration.  In response to this Directive, HHS has developed a comprehensive HHS Open Government Plan.  As articulated by the Plan, HHS has directed two coordinating bodies to lead ongoing efforts to implement the concepts described above:  the HHS Innovation Council, which oversees implementation of the collaboration and participation elements of HHS’s Open Government Plan; and the HHS Data Council, which coordinates all HHS health and human service data collection and analysis activities.  As detailed in its Open Government Plan, HHS will undertake bold actions to foster Open Government in the coming months, including the following:

– Leverage Data for Maximum Public Good
HHS will undertake significant and specific new actions to present its massive collections of data in accessible formats that allow and encourage the fullest use of data, ensuring greater transparency of programs and greater accountability for results while assuring that appropriate data privacy and security protections are in place.  Ensuring the transparency and accessibility of HHS’s vast stores of data can help increase awareness of health and human service issues, generate insights into how to improve health and well-being, help improve HHS performance, and provide the basis for new products and services that can benefit the American people.

– Promote Best Practices through Public Participation and Collaboration
HHS will provide new venues and opportunities to share experiences, policies, helpful tools, and best practices across the public and private sectors.  Cutting-edge approaches such as public competitions and crowdsourcing will be used to promote innovation in delivery of consumer information on patient safety and health, medical research collaborations, and user-friendly information services for health care delivery.  Consumer information can help promote the affordability and accessibility of health care, promote breakthroughs in medical research and, ultimately, help save lives.

– Foster Innovation at HHS
HHS will work energetically to promote a culture of innovation, including the launch of a new Secretary’s Innovation Awards program, which will recognize and reward extraordinary achievements by employees who innovate how HHS operates in ways that advance its mission.  Employees who demonstrate powerful ways to harness the power of transparency, participation, and collaboration to improve the results delivered by HHS will be leading candidates for Innovation Awards on an ongoing basis.

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