The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)serves as the nations principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans, and providing essential human services. HHS has enjoyed many highlights since becoming a separate agency, while its roots go back as far as the early days of our nation. See Secretaries of HHS/HEW
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law, putting in place comprehensive U.S. health insurance reforms. 2003
The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 was enacted; the most significant expansion of Medicare since its enactment, including a prescription drug benefit. 2002
Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness was created to coordinate efforts against bioterrorism and other emergency health threats. 2001
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid was created, replacing the Health Care Financing Administration. HHS responds to the nation’s first bioterrorism attack -- delivery of anthrax through the mail. 2000
Publication of human genome sequencing.
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 was signed, making it possible for millions of Americans with disabilities to join the workforce without fear of losing their Medicaid and Medicare coverage. It also modernized the employment services system for people with disabilities. Initiative to combat bioterrorism was launched.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created, enabling states to extend health coverage to more uninsured children. 1996
Welfare reform under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was enacted. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted. 1995
The Social Security Administration became an independent agency. 1993
The Vaccines for Children Program was established, providing free immunizations to all children in low-income families. Top of Page
The Human Genome Project was established.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was passed, authorizing the food label. The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency (CARE) Act began providing support for people with AIDS. 1989
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) was created. 1988
The JOBS program and federal support for child care was created. The McKinney Act was passed to provide health care to the homeless. 1984
National Organ Transplantation Act was signed into law.
Identification of AIDS. In 1984, the HIV virus was identified by PHS and French scientists. In 1985, a blood test to detect HIV was licensed. 1980
Federal funding provided to states for foster care and adoption assistance. 1979
The Department of Education Organization Act was signed into law, providing for a separate Department of Education. HEW became the Department of Health and Human Services, officially arriving on May 4, 1980. 1977
The Health Care Financing Administration was created to manage Medicare and Medicaid separately from the Social Security Administration. Worldwide eradication of smallpox, led by the U.S. Public Health Service. 1975
Child Support Enforcement program was established.
National Cancer Act was signed into law.
The National Health Service Corps was created.
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International Smallpox Eradication program was established.
Community Health Center and Migrant Health Center programs were launched. 1965
Medicare and Medicaid programs were created, making comprehensive health care available to millions of Americans. Older Americans Act created the nutritional and social programs administered by HHS’ Administration on Aging. Head Start program was created.
Release of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. 1962
The Migrant Health Act was passed, providing support for clinics serving agricultural workers. 1961
First White House Conference on Aging.