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Major Accomplishments of the First Year

Secretary Mike Leavitt’s 500-Day Plan focuses on actions over a rolling 500-day period that will help Americans live longer, healthier, and better lives. Several important accomplishments were reached during the past year:

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  1. The United States mobilizes in preparation for an avian influenza pandemic.
  2. A newly established health information technology community is developing critical breakthroughs that will help lead to fewer medical errors, lower healthcare costs, better health, and less patient hassle.
  3. Medicare Part D implementation is well underway, with seniors receiving prescription drugs through Medicare for the first time.
  4. Medicaid reforms passed by Congress will create a more sustainable and flexible program, allowing for the care of millions more Americans.
  5. The victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita received emergency care.
  6. Strengthened work participation requirements adopted in the reauthorization of TANF will encourage states to engage families meaningfully in work activities that promote movement to jobs and self-sufficiency.
  7. A newly established Drug Safety Oversight Board provides independent oversight and safety advice to the Food and Drug Administration.
  8. HHS was influential in the passage of two historic United Nations declarations that call for the protection of human life and dignity.
  9. HHS awarded significant domestic and international grants to help prevent HIV/AIDS and to provide needed treatment and care.
  10. The first phase of the international HapMap is complete, providing a powerful tool for associating genetic variants with health and disease.

These accomplishments are detailed in the following pages.


  1. The nation mobilizes in preparation for an influenza pandemic – The United States is mobilizing at the local, state, and national levels to prepare and protect the American public from an influenza pandemic. The HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan, released in November 2005, provides a blueprint for pandemic influenza preparedness and response at the local, state, and national levels. In December 2005, HHS organized a national summit on pandemic influenza preparedness and planning, which is being followed by summits in every state and territory to inform and involve state public health, emergency response, political, economic, education, and community leadership in the planning process. On December 30, 2005, the President signed legislation that provides $3.3 billion to HHS to: expand domestic capacity for, and stockpiles of, vaccines; to fund cell-based approach to producing influenza vaccines; to procure and stockpile antiviral drugs; to enhance local and state preparedness; and to improve domestic and international surveillance efforts. In addition, for the first time, a vaccine was developed that produced an immune response against an H5N1 strain.
  2. Breakthroughs identified in health information technology – Secretary Leavitt formed and convened the American Health Information Community of public and private healthcare leaders who will make recommendations on accelerating the development and adoption of health information technology. The Community has reached agreement on four initial breakthroughs and work is underway to deliver tangible results to consumers within one to two years. HHS contracts issued last year will help develop the infrastructure, including prototypes for a nationwide health information network that will allow secure and seamless exchange of information while protecting confidentiality. This work is complemented by proposed rules permitting healthcare organizations to furnish hardware, software and related training services to physicians for e-prescriptions and for electronic health records. The federal government continues to lead by example through the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Personnel Management to use health information technology to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, reduce medical errors, and control costs for the people that it serves.
  3. Medicare prescription drug implementation underway – Everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, now has access to prescription drugs. Over 25 million Medicare beneficiaries currently have prescription drug coverage. The market-based competition is driving the average monthly premium $12 below estimates, saving the federal government $5 billion in 2006. Additionally, every region of the country offers at least one plan with a premium below $21 per month. Through Medicare’s help, pharmacies are filling over a million prescriptions per day, and seniors are saving money. Initial start-up problems with the delivery system are being addressed.
  4. Medicaid modernization – Medicaid waivers have made Medicaid more sustainable and flexible so that benefits can be tailored to need, allowing millions more to obtain coverage. New Medicaid reforms enacted by Congress are a product of a bipartisan Medicaid commission formed to recommend strategies to modernize and enhance the Medicaid program and identify $10 billion in scorable savings over five years. These reforms will significantly increase access to care for low-income Americans and streamline the operation of state Medicaid programs.
  5. Serving the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – Secretary Leavitt authorized the largest deployment ever of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to provide critical medical services to the victims of these devastating storms. HHS deployed over $38 million of medical supplies and Federal Medical Shelters from the Strategic National Stockpile to help with mass casualty care. In addition, HHS granted a series of waivers to states to ensure the continued availability of federal healthcare services. Standard operating procedures were relaxed to speed the delivery of care when state and local providers were overwhelmed.
  6. Strengthening families – The Administration successfully worked with Congress to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program giving states new requirements, incentives, and the assurance of continued and sustained program funding and flexibility. This reauthorization establishes meaningful work participation requirements as envisioned by the architects of welfare reform in 1996. These reforms will motivate states to engage more families in work activities to help move them into jobs, off welfare, and toward self-sufficiency.
  7. Drug safety – HHS created the Drug Safety Oversight Board to provide independent oversight and advice on drug safety to the Food and Drug Administration and to share information with healthcare professionals and patients. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration, and other agencies, launched DailyMed, a new web-based health information clearinghouse that provides free, up-to-the-minute medication information to consumers, healthcare providers, and healthcare information suppliers.
  8. Protecting life, family, and human dignity – HHS issued guidance relating to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, instructing hospitals, states, and state survey and certification agencies that infants born alive at any stage of development — including after abortion procedures — are protected by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and provisions of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. In addition, HHS was influential in passing two historic United Nations declarations that call for the protection of human life and dignity, including the first-ever condemnation of all forms of human cloning by the United Nations General Assembly.
  9. Extending and improving the lives of people who suffer with HIV/AIDS – Secretary Leavitt awarded Ryan White CARE Act grants worth over $2.0 billion to help people who suffer from HIV/AIDS. The funds are distributed to over 800 grantees including states, U.S. territories, heavily-impacted cities, and community organizations. HHS also expanded prevention, care, and treatment efforts in the 15 countries that are the target of the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief. Some $640 million is committed internationally this fiscal year, 2007, for HIV prevention activities and rapid scale-up of care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.
  10. World class medical research – The first phase of the International HapMap Project is complete. The map provides an important shortcut to accessing one million markers of genetic variations across the human genome. The HapMap provides a key resource for researchers to find genes affecting health, disease, and responses to drugs and environmental factors.
  11. Community Health Center expansion – HHS awarded 105 new health center grants totaling more than $65 million. These grants will help an estimated 632,000 Americans, including many without health insurance, obtain comprehensive primary healthcare services.
  12. Faith and community-based services – HHS improved the capacity of grass roots, faith-based, and community organizations to provide a wide range of social services through its Compassion Capital Fund, awarding $49 million to over 350 organizations.
  13. Closing the healthcare gap – Secretary Leavitt announced $164 million in grants to develop the Community Networks Program to reduce the number of cancer deaths in minority and poor populations, to advance health disparities research, to reduce the number of cancer deaths in minority and poor populations, and for outreach to minority groups affected by Hurricane Katrina.
  14. United States as a leader among nations in health diplomacy – Secretary Leavitt and Deputy Secretary Alex Azar met with more than 50 Ministers of Health, Welfare, Family, or Social Development; the Director-General of the World Health Organization; and the European Commissioner of Health and Consumer Protection. The Secretary and Deputy Secretary addressed the importance of public health emergency preparedness, improved global disease surveillance for avian influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, the importance of innovation, and numerous other issues of mutual interest.
  15. Achieving high management scores – HHS achieved the highest scorecard rating (green progress) for all nine HHS initiatives of the President’s Management Agenda, for the first time ever. Green progress signifies that the Department is progressing at the highest level in implementing management goals.

(the below text is from the back page of both the 250 Day Update and the Accomplishments book)


Care for the truly needy, foster self-reliance
National standards, neighborhood solutions
Collaboration, not polarization
Solutions transcend political boundaries
Markets before mandates
Protect privacy
Science for facts, process for priorities
Reward results, not programs
Change a heart, change a Nation
Value life