Government Regulatory Agencies: Health and Human Services

Identity and Role of HHS

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the largest arms of the federal government. The idea for such a department was mooted as early as 1923 by the Harding administration (Berkowitz, 2008). However, it was only in the year 1980 that the idea was actualized by president Jimmy Carter’s administration. The major role of the department is to safeguard the health of the American citizens, as well as availing to them essential human services, especially to those citizens who may be marginalized or disadvantaged. It regulates more than 300 grant-in-aid programs as one of its ways of meeting its mandate. These programs are usually directed at state and local governments, universities and NGOs. The United States has hundreds of public health and social service programs, and all of them are regulated by this department (Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2011). This is together with Medicare and Medicaid, two of the US medical cover catering for at least 25 percent of the population (Berkowitz, 2008).

Health Care Products and Services Regulated by HHS

In countries all over the world, one of the major roles of the government is to regulate health care products and services to safeguard the health of the citizens. The United States of America is no exception. Through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it oversees the various health care products and services in the country. One such area controlled and regulated by this department is the provision of public health and social service programs (HHS, 2011). This is for example social welfare for those citizens who are on welfare. Together with law enforcement agencies, the department safeguards against abuse of this welfare. Through its National Response Framework, the department also regulates the provision of emergency services, for example during hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. The department also provides and regulates Medicare and Medicaid, and together with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, investigates and prosecutes frauds related to these two health covers. As earlier indicated, this department also administers grants programs, for example, funding of university research into public and social health (Berkowitz, 2008). It is expected that these programs will go a long way in improving the health of Americans.

The department functions through 12 operating divisions. These include 1. Administration on aging. 2. health care financing administration, under which Medicare and Medicaid are found. 3. Administration for Children and Families. 4. Program Support Centre. 5. Public Health Service, which is made up of eight subdivisions, bringing into 12 the total number of operating divisions in the department (HHS, 2011). It is the role of the department’s secretary to regulate all the public and social service programs in the department. This includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarded as the major regulator of public health by the country’s government. It is also the role of the secretary, and the department in extension, to advise the administration on various social and health services policies to be implemented (Berkowitz, 2008).


Berkowitz, E. Department of health and human services. In Kurian, G. T. (ed) (2008), A historical guide to the U.S government. New York: Oxford University Press.

Department of Health and Human Services, the. (2011). US Department of Health & Human Services. Web.

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