U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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The HHS Role
HHS conducts and supports a variety of programs to provide assistance and support to people with disabilities. The department's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administers Medicare and Medicaid, the nation's largest public health coverage programs. In addition to providing health insurance to most older Americans, Medicare provides health coverage to millions of people with disabilities under age 65. Medicaid, the state-federal partnership that pays for health-care services for certain low-income families and individuals, also serves millions of people with disabilities each year. Medicaid includes long-term care services that benefit millions of disabled people who receive care in nursing facilities, in their homes or in community settings.
HHS is a direct provider of health services for many American Indian and Alaska Native individuals through the Indian Health Service. In addition, the department's Administration on Aging funds supportive services for older individuals and their families that are provided through state units on aging, area agencies on aging, tribal organizations and local service providers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides funding for a variety of activities and services to meet the needs of individuals with mental disabilities and substance abuse disorders and offers key support to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also funds state projects focusing specifically on promoting the health, well-being and participation of people with disabilities.
Other HHS-funded programs include primary health care programs funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Head Start and other child and family services funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In addition, ACF's Administration on Developmental Disabilities supports councils in each state to assist in the development of a comprehensive system for meeting the needs of persons with developmental disabilities and a protection and advocacy program to protect the rights of such individuals.
HHS also supports research activities or clinical studies looking into the causes and effects of disabilities. Agencies engaged in this work include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation is responsible for the development, coordination, research and evaluation of HHS policies and programs that facilitate the long-term care for and community integration of individuals with disabilities.
Finally, the HHS Office for Civil Rights works to ensure compliance with civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in HHS federally conducted and federally assisted programs and is responsible for ensuring that state and local government health and social service programs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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Last revised: October 16, 2003