On June 14th, the Department of Health and Human Services Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee (CFSAC) concluded the first of its twice-annual meetings. The CFSAC is made up of 11 members appointed from the public and representatives from several federal institutions who advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on matters related to CFS. The CFSAC is one of many committees governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Its charter is renewed every two years, at which time the committee’s scope and structure is re-evaluated. Meetings are open to the public and have recently been webcast and/or audiocast.
The HHS “is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.” It is comprised of 11 operating divisions with different missions and separate budgets appropriated by Congress. HHS is part of the executive branch of government that reports through the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the president of the United States. The Social Security Administration was once a division of HHS, but it is now an independent agency.
Below is a primer on each of the federal agencies that is represented on the CFS Advisory Committee.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) – www.ahrq.gov
Mission: “The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. As 1 of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ supports research that helps people make more informed decisions and improves the quality of health care services. AHRQ was formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.”
Budget: $372 million (2010); $611 million (2011 request). “Approximately 80 percent of AHRQ’s budget is invested in grants and contracts focused on improving health care.”
Agency Head: Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – www.cdc.gov
Mission: “Collaborating to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health – through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats.”
Budget: $10.8 billion (2011); $10.5 billion (2012)
Agency Head: Thomas Freiden, M.D.
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – www.cms.gov
Mission: “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is an Operating Division within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The creation of CMS (previously the Health Care Financing Administration) in 1977 brought together, under unified leadership, the two largest Federal health care programs at that time–Medicare and Medicaid. In 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was established to address the healthcare needs of uninsured children.”
Budget: ~$505 billion (2012); ~$526 billion (2013 requested)
Agency Head: Marilyn Tavenner
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – www.fda.gov
Mission: “FDA is responsible for
- Protecting the public health by assuring that foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary and properly labeled; human and veterinary drugs, and vaccines and other biological products and medical devices intended for human use are safe and effective
- Protecting the public from electronic product radiation
- Assuring cosmetics and dietary supplements are safe and properly labeled
- Regulating tobacco products
- Advancing the public health by helping to speed product innovations
- Helping the public get the accurate science-based information they need to use medicines, devices, and foods to improve their health”
Budget: ~$3.3 billion (2011); $3 billion (2012 requested)
Staff: 9,300 (2008)
Agency Head: Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) – www.hrsa.gov
Mission: “The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable… [our mission is] to improve health and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce and innovative programs.”
Budget: $7.5 billion (2010)
Agency Head: Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – www.nih.gov
Mission: “The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”
Budget: “The NIH invests over $30.9 billion annually in medical research for the American people. More than 80% of the NIH’s funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state and around the world.”
Staff: 17,500 employees (2003, Bethesda campus)
Agency Head: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D
Social Security Administration (SSA) – www.ssa.gov
Mission: “We deliver services through a nationwide network of over 1,400 offices that include regional offices, field offices, card centers, teleservice centers, processing centers, hearing offices, the Appeals Council, and our State and territorial partners, the Disability Determination Services. We also have a presence in U.S. embassies around the globe. [Our mission is to] deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public.”
The Social Security Administration administers retirement, disability and supplemental income programs legislated by Congress.
Budget: $12.4 billion (2011); $11.7 billion (2012 estimate)
Commissioner: Michael J. Astrue
Note: The SSA is no longer a division of HHS; it is an independent agency.