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