The men and women of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can be proud of all they achieved in 2019. This past year was marked by exceptional progress in accomplishing our mission: to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.
We’re a big department, but we’re united by one strategic vision: a country where our HHS programs, and America’s healthcare, human services, public health, and biomedical science institutions, work better for the people we serve. Our work is organized around the five goals laid out in our strategic plan:
- Reform, strengthen, and modernize the nation’s healthcare system.
- Protect the health of Americans where they live, learn, work, and play.
- Strengthen the economic and social well-being of Americans across the lifespan.
- Foster sound, sustained advances in the sciences.
- Promote effective and efficient management and stewardship.
There are three themes I’ve emphasized that encompass the work we do to deliver on these goals: First, we facilitate patient-centered markets for healthcare; second, we protect life and lives; and third, we promote Americans’ independence.
In 2019, we laid out a vision for what a patient-centered, market driven healthcare system looks like: a system that’s affordable, personalized, puts you in control, and treats you like a person, not a number. We’re already delivering results. Thanks to actions we took this past year, patients are gaining unprecedented control over the information they need to make decisions about their care. Retail prescription drug prices dropped in 2018 for the first time in more than 40 years, while Medicare Advantage and Part D premiums dropped to the lowest levels in years.
This past year, we protected life both here in the U.S. and abroad. HHS played a crucial role in responding to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the response to South America’s refugee crisis. We took an aggressive approach to impactable health challenges here at home, with the launch of our historic initiative to end the HIV epidemic in America, and significant increases in access to addiction treatment that contributed to the first decline in drug overdose deaths in more than two decades.
We promoted independence by promoting adoption, with historically high levels of youth being placed out of foster care. We’ve expanded access to truly evidence-based treatment for people with serious mental illness, and provided new support for older Americans to remain in their homes and communities.
As we begin 2020, we have many results to be proud of, but also many challenges on the horizon. It has been and will be an honor to continue leading the HHS team, which I have great confidence will continue delivering historic results for the Americans we serve.