Listen

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Michael Caputo, the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services and a longtime ally of President Trump's, is taking a 60-day leave of absence after a social media tirade in which he falsely accused government scientists of engaging in "sedition."

Michael Caputo, the top spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed to NPR on Tuesday that he made comments during a Facebook Live event on Sunday that have attracted attention and concern – but he said that some of the comments had been taken out of context.

The longtime political strategist did not dispute that he said he believes there are scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who are trying to undermine President Trump and accused them of "sedition."

Children's Hospital in Columbus will use a 2.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set up an addtional school-based health clinic for Columbus City School students and expand a reproductive health education pilot program launched last year.  

Updated Thursday at 4:55 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has stirred confusion and concern by rewriting its guidelines for coronavirus testing. Public health experts fear the revised guidelines will lead to less testing – something the president has repeatedly asked for — but the administration denies that.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working "to build a revolutionary new data system" for COVID-19 hospital data collection that the CDC will run upon completion, according to Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Birx's comments this week come a month after the Trump administration mandated that hospitals sidestep the agency and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

By the second week in July, COVID-19 cases in North Carolina were climbing fast.

With nearly 19,000 diagnoses over the previous two weeks, only five states recorded more new coronavirus cases than North Carolina did.

"Today is our highest day of hospitalizations and our second-highest day of cases," Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, announced on July 9, standing behind a podium in the state's Emergency Operations Center. "Please continue to treat the virus like the deadly threat that it is."

An NPR investigation has found irregularities in the process by which the Trump administration awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a Pittsburgh company to collect key data about COVID-19 from the country's hospitals.

The contract is at the center of a controversy over the administration's decision to move that data reporting function from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which has tracked infection information for a range of illnesses for years — to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Updated July 16, 9:40 a.m. ET

The Trump Administration has mandated that hospitals sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database.

From the start of the pandemic, the CDC has collected data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, availability of intensive care beds and personal protective equipment. But hospitals must now report that information to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Public health experts generally agree that, in spite of improvements, the U.S. still falls short on the testing needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The official who oversees the country's testing efforts, however, maintains the U.S. is doing well on testing now and will soon be able to expand testing greatly using newer, point-of-care tests that deliver quick results.

Updated at 7:29 p.m. ET

The Trump administration on Friday finalized a rule that would remove nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people when it comes to health care and health insurance.

The Trump administration's testing czar announced Monday that he will be leaving that position in mid-June.

Adm. Brett Giroir told a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he will be "demobilized" from his role overseeing coronavirus testing at FEMA in a few weeks and going back to his regular post at the Department of Health and Human Services.

An HHS spokesperson confirmed the plan for Giroir to stand down from his role and indicated that there are no plans to appoint a new "head of efforts" for coronavirus testing.

Updated at 6:59 p.m. ET Sunday

President Trump is moving to replace the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog whose office found severe shortages of medical supplies in hospitals as COVID-19 cases surged.

Federal health officials estimated in early April that more than 300,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 if all social distancing measures are abandoned, and later estimates pushed the possible death toll even higher, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Some outside experts say even that grim outlook may be too optimistic.

The documents, created by the Department of Health and Human Services, spell out the data and analysis the agency is sharing with other federal agencies to help shape their responses to the coronavirus.

Updated at 1:15 a.m. ET Monday

Health officials confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Sunday evening in San Benito County, Calif., south of San Jose. The two are husband and wife, both 57.

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET

The Trump administration declared a public health emergency in the U.S. Friday in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

"Today President Trump took decisive action to minimize the risk of novel coronavirus in the United States," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a White House press conference.

The risk of contracting the coronavirus is the U.S. is low — something that federal health administration officials emphasized repeatedly. "We are working to keep the risk low," Azar said.

There's no doubt that opioids have been massively overprescribed in U.S. In the haste to address the epidemic, there's been pressure on doctors to reduce prescriptions of these drugs — and in fact prescriptions are declining. But along the way, some chronic pain patients have been forced to rapidly taper or discontinue the drugs altogether.

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new message for doctors: Abrupt changes to a patient's opioid prescription could harm them.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to roll back an Obama-era policy intended to protect transgender people from discrimination in health care.

The Trump administration has issued its final draft of a rule that makes sweeping changes to Title X, the federal program that provides birth control and other reproductive health services to millions of low-income Americans.

Trump administration health officials are spelling out their ambitious plan to stop the spread of HIV in the U.S. within the next 10 years.

The plan would target 48 counties where the rate of HIV spread is the highest, along with Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seven states with high rates of HIV in rural areas would also be targeted, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

The American opioid crisis is far from over, but early data indicate the number of deaths are beginning to level off, according to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing "encouraging" results in overdose trends.

In a speech on Tuesday at a Milken Institute health summit, Azar walked through statistics suggesting deaths were plateauing and he highlighted efforts he says may be turning the tide in the drug epidemic.

Andy Chow

The federal government has rejected Ohio’s attempt to end the individual mandate for health care. The mandate is a staple of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 

vitas.com

The Justice Department says a Dublin-based corporation has paid a record 75 million dollars to settle lawsuits stemming from alleged false claims about hospice patients.

guttmacher.org

The Obama administration has proposed barring states and other recipients of federal family planning grants from placing their own eligibility restrictions on where the money can go.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding nearly 2 million dollars to organizations that will help enroll Ohioans in health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 95 thousand Ohioans are among the new enrolees in the federal marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 244 thousand Ohioans signed up for private insurance or renewed coverage through the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says roughly 43 thousand Ohioans have signed up for health coverage through the federal marketplace so far this registration period.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Ohioans seeking health insurance coverage for next year will see a slight drop in the cost of a benchmark plan on HealthCare.gov.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Serices says more than 234 thousand Ohioans signed up for health coverage or renewed health plans in the federally run insurance marketplace during the open enrollment period that ended last month.

A new federal report shows that nearly 197,000 Ohioans could lose about $576 million in health insurance subsidies this year in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Pages