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Latest Top (4) News


Secretary Azar Participates in Final Day of G7 Health Ministerial Meeting and Global Health Security Initiative Special Ministerial Meeting on Ebola

Today, May 17, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in bilateral meetings with health ministers, attended the final day of the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting in Paris, France, as the head of the U.S. delegation, and attended a Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) Special Ministerial Meeting on Ebola.

In the morning, Secretary Azar participated in a bilateral meeting with Matt Hancock, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, where they discussed the current status of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and how to collaborate to stop the spread of the disease and provide support on the ground. Next, they discussed the current measles outbreak and the importance of vaccinations. They also discussed the opioid crisis in the United States and lessons learned. Secretary Azar detailed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, expanding access to treatment that works, especially to medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports, and the importance of access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone to save lives.

Next, at the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting, the health ministers continued their discussion about the importance of strengthening primary healthcare and the need for enhanced communication and coordination between nations. During the meeting, the ministers also discussed replenishment of the Global Fund, an essential partner in the fight against the three major infectious diseases (AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria) in the world. The U.S. has invested over $13.8 billion in the Global Fund since its establishment in 2002. The U.S. intends to continue its support of the Global Fund and anticipates being able to make a $3.3 billion pledge to the Sixth Replenishment (2020-2022), while offering to match $1 from the United States for every $3 pledged by other donors.

Later in the morning, Secretary Azar participated in a bilateral meeting with Jens Spahn, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, where they discussed President Trump and Secretary Azar’s plan to lower prescription drug costs for American patients and how the U.S. drug pricing system compares to Germany’s system. They also discussed the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and how the two nations and others must work together towards a strategic approach to support efforts on the ground.

At the conclusion of the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting, the ministers participated in a press conference and agreed to the G7 Health Ministers’ Declaration which emphasizes France’s two main deliverables in the G7 health track: replenishment of the Global Fund and establishment of a web-based, information-sharing platform on Primary Healthcare. In the Declaration, the G7 leaders recommit to continue to offer assistance to 76 partner countries and regions to implement the World Health Organization International Health Regulations, building on countries’ expertise and existing partnerships, to strengthen and maintain core capacities required; and therefore, to help reduce the vulnerability of countries to public health emergencies.

In the afternoon, Secretary Azar hosted ministers for a GHSI Special Meeting on Ebola. Meeting participants discussed potential GHSI actions to ensure timely access to Ebola vaccines and the need to sustain a global infrastructure for medical countermeasures. Ministers received an update from the World Health Organization on the current status of Ebola in the DRC and discussed the need for continued collaboration and funding to address the outbreak and prevent its spread to other nations. Secretary Azar highlighted the need for GHSI members to have a leading role in ensuring a sustainable global infrastructure for medical countermeasures for naturally occurring emerging diseases, and chemical, biological, and radiological/nuclear agents.

Later, Secretary Azar met with Jamie D. McCourt, U.S. Ambassador to the French Republic and Principality of Monaco. They discussed the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting and the United States’ work to promote global health security at home and abroad.

Additional information regarding Secretary Azar’s meetings and schedule will be forthcoming in news releases and social media posts.

Secretary Alex Azar and the health ministers of the G7
Secretary Alex Azar and the health ministers at the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting in Paris, France


Friday, May 17, 2019 - 16:45


Tennessee diagnostic medical imaging services company pays $3,000,000 to settle breach exposing over 300,000 patients’ protected health information

Touchstone Medical Imaging (“Touchstone”) has agreed to pay $3,000,000 to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and to adopt a corrective action plan to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security and Breach Notification Rules. Touchstone, based in Franklin, Tennessee, provides diagnostic medical imaging services in Nebraska, Texas, Colorado, Florida, and Arkansas. 

In May 2014, Touchstone was notified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and OCR that one of its FTP servers allowed uncontrolled access to its patients’ protected health information (PHI).  This uncontrolled access permitted search engines to index the PHI of Touchstone’s patients, which remained visible on the Internet even after the server was taken offline. 

Touchstone initially claimed that no patient PHI was exposed.  However, during OCR’s investigation, Touchstone subsequently admitted that the PHI of more than 300,000 patients was exposed including names, birth dates, social security numbers, and addresses.  OCR’s investigation found that Touchstone did not thoroughly investigate the security incident until several months after notice of the breach from both the FBI and OCR.  Consequently, Touchstone’s notification to individuals affected by the breach was also untimely.  OCR’s investigation further found that Touchstone failed to conduct an accurate and thorough risk analysis of potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all of its electronic PHI (ePHI), and failed to have business associate agreements in place with its vendors, including their IT support vendor and a third-party data center provider as required by HIPAA.

“Covered entities must respond to suspected and known security incidents with the seriousness they are due, especially after being notified by two law enforcement agencies of a problem,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.  “Neglecting to have a comprehensive, enterprise-wide risk analysis, as illustrated by this case, is a recipe for failure.” 

In addition to the monetary settlement, Touchstone will undertake a robust corrective action plan that includes the adoption of business associate agreements, completion of an enterprise-wide risk analysis, and comprehensive policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA Rules. 

The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/tmi/index.html.



Monday, May 6, 2019 - 10:00


Secretary Azar Meets with the Pasteur Institute

Today, May 18, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in a meeting with the Pasteur Institute. He and other U.S. health officials met with Stewart Cole, President of the Pasteur Institute, and other members of the Institute’s senior leadership team.

They discussed the history of the Pasteur Institute and the continued collaboration between the Institute and HHS, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to improve influenza and emerging infectious disease surveillance networks in Africa and Southeast Asia. They also discussed vaccine development to prevent pandemic flu and the importance of vaccinations to prevent diseases, such as measles. Secretary Azar emphasized global health security and combatting antimicrobial resistance as major priorities for the U.S.

Upon the meeting’s conclusion, participants discussed opportunities for increased collaboration to take our partnership to the next level and Secretary Azar thanked the Pasteur Institute for their global leadership in prevention and response to infectious diseases, and recognized the strong scientific tradition carried on by Pasteur’s researchers and trainees over the past 130 years.

Secretary Azar and Stewart Cole

Later in the day, Secretary Azar will travel to Geneva, Switzerland for the 72nd World Health Assembly, as the head of the U.S. delegation beginning May 19, 2019. Additional information and details regarding the Secretary’s travel and meetings will be forthcoming.

 



Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 13:30


Secretary Azar Attends G7 Health Ministerial Meeting and Participates in Bilateral Meetings

Today, May 16, 2019, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in bilateral meetings with health ministers and attended the first day of the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting in Paris, France, as the head of the U.S. delegation.

First, Secretary Azar participated in a bilateral meeting with Agnès Buzyn, France’s Minister of Solidarity and Health, where they discussed the importance of vaccines and the need to work together towards global health security in the context of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They also discussed President Trump’s plan to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs. At the conclusion of the meeting, Secretary Azar and Minister Buzyn discussed the U.S. government’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge.

In the afternoon at the G7 Health Ministerial Meeting, ministers discussed strengthening primary healthcare, which addresses the needs of populations at every stage of people’s lives, to combat health inequalities and why a common operational culture of primary healthcare strengthening is now needed. During the meeting, Secretary Azar noted that the best thing for improving health inequalities is employment and economic opportunity. He praised President Trump’s leadership to secure new jobs for Americans and the U.S. unemployment rate which is the lowest in 50 years and the lowest rate unemployment ever recorded for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.

Secretary Azar also detailed the U.S. approach towards innovative, integrated, patient-centered, value-based, and multi-stakeholder approaches to primary healthcare. As an example of what the U.S. is doing to reform primary care in the U.S., he detailed the innovative Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Primary Cares Initiative, a new set of payment models that will transform primary care to deliver better value for patients throughout the healthcare system.

Later in the afternoon, Secretary Azar participated in a bilateral meeting with Giulia Grillo, Italy’s Minister of Health, where they discussed the importance of combatting antimicrobial resistance and the need for greater donor coordination in response to the Ebola outbreak in the DRC. Additionally, they discussed the importance of vaccinations to prevent the spread of illnesses, such as measles, and they also discussed the U.S. government’s Antimicrobial Resistance Challenge.

Next, Secretary Azar met with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. They discussed the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC and the need for continued adaptation to the challenging situations on the ground. They will next meet in Geneva, Switzerland at the 72nd World Health Assembly.

Additional information regarding Secretary Azar’s meetings and schedule will be forthcoming in news releases and social media posts.



Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 17:00