Aspects of a proposed reorganization of the federal government could affect the agencies that administer key health care programs.
In its 132-page Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations proposal, the White House calls for consolidating many social safety-net programs in a new Department of Health and Public Welfare. This department would retain responsibility for Medicare and Medicaid but also would assume responsibility for some food aid programs, including food stamps (now the Supplemental Food Assistance Program, or SNAP).
In addition, the proposal would:
- consolidate all health research programs in the National Institutes of Health, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research;
- reduce the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps from 6500 to no more than 4000 officers; and
- remove food safety responsibilities from the Food and Drug Administration, change that agency’s name to the Federal Drug Administration, and shift food safety responsibilities to the Department of Agriculture.
Also part of this Department of Health and Public Welfare would be a new Council on Public Assistance that would ostensibly become the executive branch’s welfare policy-making body. Serving on this council would be the heads or representatives of the heads of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development, the new Department of Education and the Workforce, and the Office of Management and Budget, with the council to be headed by the secretary or secretary’s designee from the Department of Health and Public Welfare.
While some of the White House’s recommendations can be implemented via executive action, others require congressional action.