Health and Human Services

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Feds Make Arrests in COVID Medicare Scams

Fraudsters exploited virus fears to bill tens of millions in bogus claims

(Newser) - The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against more than a dozen people from Florida to California in a series of Medicare scams that exploited coronavirus fears to bill tens of millions of dollars in bogus claims. A common hook involved a pandemic variant of identity theft: Fraudsters allegedly offered COVID-19...

Biden's Pick for Big HHS Role a Historic First

Rachel Levine may be first openly transgender federal official to get confirmed by Senate

(Newser) - Xavier Becerra has a new No. 2 at Health and Human Services. The AP reports that President-elect Joe Biden has picked Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's current health secretary, to serve as his assistant health secretary under Becerra, who has been nominated by Biden to be the nation's top...

HHS Secretary Notes Capitol Riot in Resignation Letter

A not-unusual stepping down as new administration enters, but his letter had some harsh words

(Newser) - As the US presidency changes hands on Wednesday, one of the Trump administration's remaining Cabinet members will officially remove his own name from the payroll. CNN reports that on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar submitted his letter of resignation to President Trump, and while he listed...

More People Are Now Eligible for Vaccination
Feds Shift Strategy on Vaccine

Feds Shift Strategy on Vaccine

Plan to speed up distribution includes getting vaccines into pharmacies

(Newser) - The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 and older and to others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, officials said Tuesday, per the AP . Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that...

Biden Makes Surprise Pick for HHS
Biden's HHS Pick
Is a Surprise

Biden's HHS Pick Is a Surprise

And not necessarily a pleasant one for some public health experts

(Newser) - Joe Biden's pick for Health and Human Services secretary was a bit of a surprise: The president-elect is reportedly going with Xavier Becerra, currently California's attorney general. The New York Times notes Becerra was long seen as a contender for the same job at the federal level, but...

Rule Change Gives New Hope to People Waiting for an Organ

Feds says 'broken' system is being improved

(Newser) - The Trump administration's legacy will include a more efficient organ donation system that could save thousands of lives, under a new rule issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid services . The rule changes the way organ procurement organizations—federally funded nonprofit groups that collect organs from donors and...

Top HHS Aide Takes Leave After Facebook Rant

Caputo 'has decided to take a leave of absence to focus on his health'

(Newser) - A top Department of Health and Human Services aide who aired numerous conspiracy theories in a Facebook Live rant will be on leave for the next 60 days, the department says. Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official appointed as chief HHS spokesperson in April, "has decided to take...

Caputo Blames Facebook Rant on Stress, Health

He has hinted at stepping down, sources say

(Newser) - Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Michael Caputo has apologized to staff for his bizarre Facebook Live rant on Sunday and has hinted that he might step down, sources tell Politico . The insiders say Caputo—who claimed Sunday that a "resistance unit" of government scientists was plotting against...

HHS Spokesman: People Should 'Buy Ammunition'

Michael Caputo claims CDC scientists are conspiring against Trump

(Newser) - The former Trump campaign employee appointed in April as spokesperson for the Health and Human Services department on Sunday issued warnings that had little to do with the coronavirus. In a Facebook Live video, Michael Caputo said "his mental health has definitely failed" and outlined multiple conspiracy theories, reports...

Trump Officials Are Altering CDC Reports on COVID-19

But the CDC is pushing back in fight over COVID-19 data

(Newser) - Another war of words has erupted in Washington—this one over the printed page, Politico reports. Insiders say the health department's political appointees are demanding the right to edit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly COVID-19 updates , but the CDC is pushing back, and the mood...

Emails Reveal Attempt to Direct Advice Given by Fauci

HHS official told press team to ensure he didn't recommend masks for children

(Newser) - A Trump administration appointee in the Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to shape what Dr. Anthony Fauci says about the pandemic, according to emails obtained by Politico . In emails to Fauci's National Institutes of Health press team and other officials dated as recently as this...

Ousted Vaccine Chief Will Warn of 'Darkest Winter'

Rick Bright is set to testify before Congress on Thursday

(Newser) - Rick Bright, ousted chief of a government agency fighting the pandemic, is set to deliver sobering warnings when he testifies before Congress on Thursday. The virologist will warn that without a coordinated, science-based national response, "the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,...

White House Reportedly Looking to Can Health Chief

Trump reportedly displeased with HHS secretary Alex Azar's handling of pandemic

(Newser) - Joining the millions upon millions of Americans in the unemployment line may soon be the Cabinet secretary partly responsible for heading up the response to the pandemic that sent them there in the first place. The White House is weighing kicking HHS Secretary Alex Azar to the curb over his...

Whistleblower: HHS Actions on Virus Were Dangerous

Complaint says staffers met evacuated Americans from China with no protective gear

(Newser) - Another whistleblower complaint is in the news, this time about the coronavirus. A high-ranking official in Health and Human Services says her superiors blew it when they sent HHS staffers to meet American evacuees being returned from China in late January and early February, reports the Washington Post . The staffers...

Detained Migrant Kids Say Staff Touched Their Genitals

Allegations made in 4.5K reports of abuse since October 2014

(Newser) - Rep. Ted Deutch described the government's 135 migrant shelters as "an unsafe environment" at a Tuesday congressional hearing on the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant families, and produced some alarming stats to back up the claim. The Florida Democrat shared records showing the Department of Health...

New Roadblocks on Abortion Put Out by Trump Administration

Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics now barred from making abortion referrals

(Newser) - The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court. The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family...

Feds: Not Sure We Can Reunite Migrant Families

Health and Human Services claims it might actually harm the children

(Newser) - The Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite what may be thousands of migrant children who have been separated from their parents and, even if it could, the children would likely be emotionally harmed. Health and Human Services Department officials said in court filings late Friday that...

Record-Breaking Drug OD Deaths in US Last Year

200 people died per day in US in 2017, per the DEA

(Newser) - Drug overdose deaths hit the highest level ever recorded in the US last year, with an estimated 200 people dying per day, according to a report by the DEA. Most of that was the result of a record number of opioid-related deaths. Preliminary figures show more than 72,000 people...

White House May Make Big Move on Defining Gender

'NYT' says proposal would do away with recognition of transgender status

(Newser) - The Trump administration may do away with the legal recognition of transgender people, reports the New York Times . Under a proposal in the works by the Department of Health and Human Services, a person's gender would be legally defined according to the genitals they had at birth. "Sex...

Report: HHS to 'Disentangle Taxpayers' From Abortions

Mandate would ban federally funded clinics from referrals, sharing space with abortion providers

(Newser) - An announcement expected Friday out of Health and Human Services has abortion rights advocates and doctors' groups steeled for a new battle on the family planning front. Per the AP and New York Times , White House officials and other sources say a Reagan-era ban is about to be rebooted: one...

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