Photo Credit: Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just released a draft of their strategic plan for Fiscal Year 2018-2022 that includes a significant change.

In the introduction to the plan, they acknowledge life begins at conception. “HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception,” the plan reads as it begins to describe the Department’s organizational structure.

The Hill noted that the Department’s strategic plan under President Barack Obama included similar language, but it did not include the phrase “beginning at conception.”

The release of this draft follows the HHS issuing new rules that protect the conscience rights of employers by allowing an exemption from Obamacare’s mandate that employers provide coverage in their insurance plan for contraceptives that also includes some abortifacients. This mandate forced some employers to violate their religious convictions or moral beliefs.

In the midst of the strategic draft release, HHS is now under new leadership. President Donald Trump gave the Department its second acting Secretary of Health and Human Services since Tom Price resigned. Eric Hargan, who was just confirmed and sworn in as Deputy Secretary will replace Don Wright as acting Secretary.

President Trump still has not announced his intent on who Price’s permanent replacement should be. Potential names discussed among pundits and Beltway insiders include CMS Administrator Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, former Louisana Governor Bobby Jindal, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum who helped draft the Cassidy-Graham healthcare plan.

Whoever is nominated and confirmed will have the ability to lead HHS under this new strategic plan.

HHS’s draft of their strategic plan is provided under the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 to ensure that Agency stakeholders are given an opportunity to comment on this plan. It is open to public comment. Comments may be provided for each goal and objective by October 27, 2017. The commenting process is explained here.

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