Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

What Is The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)?

The Department of Health and Human Services is a primary organization for the United States government that provides necessary human health services particularly for individuals who are not able to take care of themselves. Also known as the Health Department, it was created in 1979 under the Federal Department of Education which later got separated in 1995 when Social Security Administration was removed from the Department of Health and Human Services and established an independent agency.

HHS is administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services who is appointed by the president then approved by the Senate. HHS mission statement is “To enhance the health and well-being of all-Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. The Department of Health and Human Services operates health, welfare and health information technology.


The Department of Health and Human Services oversees more than a handful of divisions. In fact, HHS has 11 divisions, with 8 of those divisions focusing on public health, and while the other 3 focus on human services. The following are some of the divisions operating under the Department of Health and Human Services.

1. National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Established in 1987 as the hygienic laboratory this center’s main agenda is to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce illnesses and disability through research. With its headquarters being in Bethesda, MD the company operates a budget of approximately $37.3 billion annually in the different types of research which has improved the life expectancy rate from from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years according to a report, they have also reduced significantly the rates of disabilities of persons over the age of 65. Through NIH, HHS has supported some 35,000 research projects which have helped reduce the prevalence rate of diseases such as cancer.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Under the Department of Health and Human Services is this crucial body that was established in 1946, as a Communicable Diseases Center with its headquarters in Atlanta, GA. This agency work is to provide a system of health surveillance which acts as a monitor for preventing the outbreaks of diseases and to maintain the national health statistics. The center that operates internationally in more than 25 foreign nations guards against international disease transmission and provides for immunization services and supports research into disease and injury protection.

3. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

The mandate of CMS under HHS is to provide oversight over the health insurance exchanges that are offered within Medicaid and Medicare they also oversee the Children Health Program and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments.

4. Indian Health Service

Established in 1924 and their mission was transferred from the Interior Department in 1955 this agent works with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide federal health services to American Indians and Alaska natives. This provision to provide health services to federally-recognized tribes created in the Constitution Article 1 section 8 that was established after multiple treaties and Supreme Court decisions. Statistics indicate that annually there are 90,000 hospital admissions with 7 million outpatient visits and 2.4 million dental services offered.

5. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

This agency also works under the HHS based in Atlanta, Georgia. Established in 1980 their primary mandate of this agency is protecting communities from harmful health effects brought about by exposure to natural and human-made hazardous substances. They do this through public health assessments, surveillance activities, health studies and education training in communities around sites that may be deemed dangerous.

6. Health Resources and Services Administration

This agency also works under the U.S the department of health and human services to extend healthcare services to persons who are isolated geographically, economically or are medically vulnerable. The agency whose headquarters are in Rockville, MD was established in 1982 to help those individuals who are in need of high-quality primary health care. It also supports the training of health professionals to increase the distribution of healthcare providers to areas of insufficiency. Bone marrow, organ and blood transfusion also fall under the purview of HRSA and therefore, maintain the databases that protect against malpractices, fraud, and abuse.

7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Established in 1992 as a predecessor agency of the ‘Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration’ this body works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, mental health services, and addiction treatment. Their mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness in the community. They help fund health facilities that treat substance abuse cases through its Knowledge Development and Applications grant program.

8. Food and Drug Administration

FDA is an organization that works under HHS to ensure the safety of foods and cosmetics and the efficacy of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biological products. They also regulate tobacco products and advance public health through helping speed up product innovations. It was established in 1946 as a Communicable Diseases Center with its headquarters in Atlanta, GA.