Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services, United States Department of, federal executive department charged with administering government health programs. Successor to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which had been created in 1953, it was redesignated in 1979 with the creation of the Department of Education. The secretary advises the President on health and welfare matters. The department has several components. The Administration for Children and Families is responsible for Operation Head Start, the enforcement of child support laws, and programs concerning adoption, job training, and runaway youths. The Public Health Service is divided into 42 subdivisions; it carries out research on disease and health concerns through the National Institutes of Health, protects consumers from adulterated or untested foods and drugs through the Food and Drug Administration, and implements public health measures and monitors the spread of infectious diseases through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration develops and analyzes information relating to the prevention and treatment of addictive and mental disorders. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administers Medicare and Medicaid. The Social Security Administration, formerly part of the department, became an independent agency in 1995 (see social security). The Administration on Aging develops policy and programs to promote the welfare of older Americans and administers grants to states to establish community programs for them.

The United States Secretary of Health and Human Services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, concerned with health matters. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet.

In 1979, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was split into the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. The final Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare was Patricia Roberts Harris, who was also the first Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The duties of the secretary revolve around human conditions and concerns in the United States. This includes advising the President on matters of health, welfare, and income security programs. It strives to administer the department of Health and Human Services to carry out approved programs and make the public aware of the objectives of the department. After the attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, the position has held a unique significance in the War on Terrorism. Upon his departure, Tommy Thompson, the first secretary since the installation of the war on terrorism remarked, "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do..." Scholars concur, arguing that an attack on food particularly milk could effect approximately 100,000 people. This leaves a large amount of responsibility to the position in the age of protecting humans in all ways possible.

Chronological list

No. Name Portrait Took Office Left Office President served under Notable for
1 Patricia Roberts Harris August 3 1979 January 20 1981 Jimmy Carter The first Secretary of Health and Human Services and first African-American woman to hold a cabinet position
2 Richard Schultz Schweiker January 22 1981 February 3 1983 Ronald Reagan
3 Margaret Mary O'Shaughnessy Heckler March 9 1983 December 13 1985 Ronald Reagan
4 Otis Ray Bowen December 13 1985 January 20 1989 Ronald Reagan The first physician to become Secretary of Health and Human Services
5 Louis Wade Sullivan March 1 1989 January 20 1993 George H. W. Bush
6 Donna Edna Shalala January 22 1993 January 20 2001 Bill Clinton
7 Tommy George Thompson February 2 2001 January 26 2005 George W. Bush The first Secretary of Health and Human Services since the beginning of the War on Terrorism
8 Michael Okerlund Leavitt January 26 2005 Present George W. Bush



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