10 Things You Didn't Know About the Department of Health and Human Services

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is focusing on healthcare reform.

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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is focusing on healthcare reform

  1. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was created by President Dwight Eisenhower on April 11, 1953.
  2. The first secretary of HEW was Oveta Culp Hobby, who had been director of the Women's Army Corps during World War II.
  3. In 1979, a separate Department of Education was created by President Jimmy Carter; HEW was renamed the Department of Health and Human Services on May 4, 1980.
  4. HHS today consists of the office of the secretary and 11 agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.
  5. In 1995, the Social Security Administration, which had been part of HHS, became an independent agency.
  6. HHS says its logo (the outline of an eagle constructed with human silhouettes) represents the American people sheltered in the wing of the American eagle, suggesting HHS's concern and responsibility for the welfare of the people.
  7. Kathleen Sebelius is the 21st secretary of HHS and the fifth woman to hold that position.
  8. HHS is one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government. It has more than 67,000 employees.
  9. The budget for the department this year totals $737 billion, which is a net increase of $29 billion from 2008.
  10. Fifty-six percent of the department's 2009 budget goes toward Medicare costs, 29 percent goes toward Medicaid, and 15 percent goes to other programs.