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Latest Top (4) News


SAMHSA’s Annual Mental Health, Substance Use Data Provide Roadmap for Future Action

Today the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The annual survey comprises highly anticipated data that help provide a statistical context for the country’s opioid crisis and other behavioral health matters.

“SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health contains annual data that provides critical information which helps us understand important concepts around mental health and substance misuse across the nation,’’ said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II. “President Donald Trump, Assistant Secretary Elinore McCance-Katz and I share a vision for a path forward, one that involves connecting Americans to the evidence-based treatment they need.”

Among the findings of the 2017 NSDUH:

  • The number of individuals initiating heroin use decreased by more than 50 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. 
  • Significantly more people received treatment for their substance use disorder in 2017 than in 2016 (e.g., for illicit drug use disorder, 9.2 percent in 2016 to 13.0 percent in 2017); this was especially true for those with heroin-related opioid use disorders, from 37.5 percent in 2016 to 54.9 percent in 2017.
  • Frequent marijuana use, in both youth (aged 12-17 years) and young adults (aged 18-25 years), appears to be associated with opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes.
  • Several indicators for young adults continue to be a source of concern. They have higher rates of cigarette use, alcohol initiation, alcohol use disorder, heroin-related opioid use disorder, cocaine use, methamphetamine use, and LSD use than their younger and older counterparts. In 2017, 18-25 year olds had higher rates of methamphetamine and marijuana use than they did in 2016.  This population also had increasing rates of serious mental illness and major depressive episodes.
  • Several data trends between 2015 and 2017 for pregnant women are also of concern with data trending in the wrong direction with respect to use of illicit drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and opioids. Approximately 7 percent of pregnant women have used marijuana in the past 30 days with 3 percent reporting daily use.
  • Co-occurring issues must be addressed. Approximately 8.1 percent of individuals are living with a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.  Further, those who have any mental illness or serious mental illness are significantly more likely to use cigarettes, illicit drugs, and marijuana, misuse opioids and pain relievers and binge drink than individuals with no mental illness.

“The NSDUH data provide an essential roadmap for where we must focus our efforts,” said Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD. “SAMHSA works daily to connect Americans living with these conditions with much needed services and supports in their communities”.

Through SAMHSA, the Trump administration is directing billions of dollars in treatment support funding to states; is creating a national hub to leverage community-level expertise to strengthen treatment access through technical assistance; is educating providers in the detection and treatment of opioid use disorders; and is expanding first responders’ access to the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.

SAMHSA has been working to expand access to treatment for serious mental illnesses and serious emotional disturbances. SAMHSA also serves as the lead agency in the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory council working with nongovernmental partners to make the nation’s mental health care system as cohesive and responsive to Americans’ needs as possible.

The NSDUH report and a video presentation of the data are available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/nsduh/reports-detailed-tables-2017-NSDUH.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.



Friday, September 14, 2018 - 10:45


First Comprehensive HHS Data Sharing Report Released

Today, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer published a comprehensive report of the data sharing environment at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The report explores the challenges of sharing data between HHS agencies: https://www.hhs.gov/idealab/data-insights/

Led by HHS Chief Data Officer Dr. Mona Siddiqui, a small team of HHS staff interviewed agency leadership and staff from eleven HHS agencies, including at the NIH, CDC, FDA, CMS, and AHRQ, about the challenges and opportunities in sharing data between agencies. This report focuses specifically on data assets identified by the agencies as having high value and that are restricted or nonpublic.

The report is part of an ongoing effort to build and implement an enterprise-wide data strategy at HHS. Creating a data-driven department requires implementing a cohesive data governance structure as well as a platform to encourages data sharing, acknowledge data as an asset, and design policy around evidence.

According to the report, HHS lacks a consistent, transparent, and standardized protocol for interagency data sharing. While there are project-by-project successes, there is significant opportunity to develop a framework to efficiently scale. The report also outlines legal, technical, and cultural challenges.

Across the federal government, there is a growing consensus around the value of data governance to minimize costs and maximize efficiency. This report aims to highlight opportunities for improvement so that HHS can become a more data-driven organization. The findings indicate a need for continued engagement across HHS agencies to ensure success in building a cohesive data strategy.

Read the full report here: https://www.hhs.gov/idealab/data-insights/



Monday, September 17, 2018 - 11:00


OCR Issues Guidance to Help Ensure Equal Access to Emergency Services and the Appropriate Sharing of Medical Information During Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence makes landfall, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and its federal partners remain in close coordination to help ensure that emergency officials effectively address the needs of at-risk populations as part of disaster response.  To this end, emergency responders and officials should consider adopting, as circumstances and resources allow, the following practices to help make sure all segments of the community are served:

  • Employing qualified interpreter services to assist individuals with limited English proficiency and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing during evacuation, response, and recovery activities;
  • Making emergency messaging available in languages prevalent in the affected area(s) and in multiple formats, such as audio, large print, and captioning and ensuring that websites providing disaster-related information are accessible;
  • Making use of multiple outlets and resources for messaging to reach individuals with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, and members of diverse faith communities;
  • Considering the needs of individuals with mobility impairments and individuals with assistive devices or durable medical equipment in providing transportation for evacuation;
  • Identifying and publicizing accessible sheltering facilities that include accessible features, such as bathing, toileting, eating facilities, and bedding;
  • Avoiding separating people from their sources of support, such as service animals, durable medical equipment, caregivers, medication, and supplies; and
  • Stocking shelters with items that will help people to maintain independence, such as hearing aid batteries, canes, and walkers.

Being mindful of all segments of the community and taking reasonable steps to provide an equal opportunity to benefit from emergency response efforts will help ensure that the disaster management in all areas affected by Hurricane Florence is successful.

In addition, as part of his declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE), HHS Secretary Alex Azar has waived sanctions and penalties under certain provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule that may otherwise apply to covered hospitals, including provisions that generally require covered entities to give patients the opportunity to agree or object to sharing information with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care.  This waiver applies only to the emergency area and for the emergency period identified in the PHE declaration and only to hospitals that have instituted a disaster protocol.  Qualifying hospitals can take advantage of the waiver for up to 72 hours from the time the hospital implements its disaster protocol unless the PHE declaration terminates first.

Even without a waiver, the Privacy Rule allows patient information to be shared to assist in disaster relief efforts and to assist patients in receiving the care they need.  As explained in more detail in OCR’s Bulletin on Hurricane Florence and HIPAA linked below, the Privacy Rule permits covered entities to share information for treatment purposes, public health activities, and to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to health or safety.  The Privacy Rule also allows the sharing of information with individuals’ family, friends, and others involved in their care in emergency situations to ensure proper care and treatment.

“HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during disasters, and this guidance is designed to help emergency responders and health and human service providers meet that goal,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director. “OCR also provides technical assistance on HIPAA and civil rights to emergency responders and hospitals so they feel empowered to help people and families in crisis.”

For more information regarding how Federal civil rights laws apply in an emergency, visit the OCR’s Civil Rights Emergency Preparedness page.

For information about how the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies in an emergency, visit the OCR’S HIPAA Emergency Preparedness, Planning, and Response page or you may use the HIPAA Disclosures for Emergency Preparedness Decision Tool.

For information about emergency requirements for long-term care facilities, visit the CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule page.

For information regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other civil rights authorities, visit the OCR’s Civil Rights Laws and Regulations Enforced page.

For general information about the HIPAA statute and the implementing regulations, including the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules, visit the OCR’s HIPAA for Professionals Page .

DISCLAIMER: These guidance documents are not a final agency action, do not legally bind persons or entities outside the Federal government, and may be rescinded or modified in the Department’s discretion. Noncompliance with any voluntary standards (e.g., recommended practices) contained in these documents will not, in itself, result in any enforcement action.



Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 13:45


HHS Awards Nearly $60 million to Support Community Health Centers Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded nearly $60 million to 161 community health centers in six southern states and two U.S. territories that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Capital Assistance for Hurricane Response and Recovery Efforts (CARE) funding will help ensure continued access to primary health care services at community health centers in areas affected by the hurricanes.

“Health centers serve as lifelines to services and networks of resources in their communities every day, and especially during a crisis,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These grants build on other HHS investments to ensure that health centers can continue to serve communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and strengthen their readiness to respond to the needs of the community after future hurricanes or other disasters.”

This funding was made available by the Bipartisan Budget Act, signed by President Trump in February. CARE offers capital assistance and support for minor alteration, renovation and equipment costs to assist impacted HRSA-funded health centers providing services in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“In the aftermath of the hurricanes, we granted affected health centers flexibility in the use of HRSA funds to ensure continuity of services and assist in recovery efforts,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. “This funding is the latest in HRSA’s efforts to support these communities as they continue to recover.”

For more than 50 years, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, quality and cost-effective primary health care services to patients. Today, nearly 1,400 health centers operate more than 11,000 service delivery sites nationwide.

For a list of CARE award recipients, visit: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/care/fy2018awards/index.html

To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about

To locate a health center, visit: http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov



Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 16:15