Health and Human Services, United States Department of, federal executive department charged with administering government health programs. Successor to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which had been created in 1953, it was redesignated in 1979 with the creation of the Department of Education. The secretary advises the President on health and welfare matters. The department has several components. The Administration for Children and Families is responsible for Operation Head Start, the enforcement of child support laws, and programs concerning adoption, job training, and runaway youths. The Public Health Service is divided into 42 subdivisions; it carries out research on disease and health concerns through the National Institutes of Health, protects consumers from adulterated or untested foods and drugs through the Food and Drug Administration, and implements public health measures and monitors the spread of infectious diseases through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration develops and analyzes information relating to the prevention and treatment of addictive and mental disorders. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administers Medicare and Medicaid. The Social Security Administration, formerly part of the department, became an independent agency in 1995 (see social security). The Administration on Aging develops policy and programs to promote the welfare of older Americans and administers grants to states to establish community programs for them.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.