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The Health Agenda

for the United States is set by the HHS strategic plan — and the Trump administration aligned that plan with the goal of putting safe, legal abortion out of reach


See the top 3 ways you can take action right now to support reproductive health and rights!

Why It Matters

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) four-year strategic plan lays out the department’s priorities for the country. Traditionally, it has focused on ensuring access to health care.

The Trump-Pence administration’s 2018-2022 plan:

  • Focused on protecting the ability of employers and health care providers to deny patients health care services based on their personal beliefs.
  • Described life as beginning at conception, and it eliminates all mentions of health disparities faced by LGBTQ+ people.

Key Players

Donald Trump

President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Mike Pence

Vice President of the United States

Elected to Office: 11-8-2016
Alex Azar

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Nominated by Trump: 11-13-2017
Katy Talento

Former Special Assistant to the President, White House Domestic Policy Council

Resigned: 6-1-2019
Matthew Bowman

Principal Advisor at the Office of Civil Rights, Former Deputy General Counsel (HHS)

Appointed to HHS: March 2017
Roger Severino

Director of the Office of Civil Rights (HHS)

Appointed: March 2017
Diane Foley

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (HHS)

Appointed: 5-29-2018
Steven Valentine

Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary of Health (HHS)

Appointed to HHS: Early 2017
Valerie Huber

Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of Global Affairs; Former Senior Policy Advisor for the Assistant Secretary for Health (HHS)

Appointed: 6-6-2017

“The argument that life begins at conception... could now form the basis of a new wave of attacks against publicly funded family planning services.”

Your Health Care Depends on the Government’s Health Agenda

HHS runs health coverage (including Medicaid and Medicare) for nearly 38% of the population, and it oversees health coverage for another 16% of the population (through Marketplace exchanges), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. HHS also impacts access to care for millions of people — mostly women — who rely on public health programs like Title X.

How you get your health care in the United States depends on what HHS prioritizes. That means the changes to the HHS strategic plan and the nation’s health care priorities affect everyone who needs health care — especially those who depend on HHS programs.

Background on the Health Agenda, As Laid Out in the HHS Strategic Plan

Pulling from the Anti-Abortion Movement

The Trump-Pence administration’s four-year plan borrowed language from the anti-abortion movement, signaling that the administration intended to roll back access to safe, legal abortion as well as birth control.

Excluding LGBTQ+ Health from the Government’s Health Goals

The administration stripped all mentions of LGBTQ+ health from the four-year plan. The erasure suggested that helping LGBTQ+ access health care wasn't a priority for the administration.

Human Rights Campaign
Anti-Abortion Advocate Led the Plan for the Country’s Health Policy Goals

The 2018-2022 HHS strategic plan was led by Senior Policy Advisor Valerie Huber, a staunch anti-abortion, pro-abstinence advocate.

Rewire News
HHS Defining — and Defending — Life as Beginning at Conception

Health Secretary Alex Azar explicitly defended the decision for HHS to define life as beginning at conception, arguing "The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, and this includes the unborn."

TIME Magazine
Empowering Providers to Deny Care to Women, LGBTQ+ Patients

Unlike past plans, the 2018-2022 plan promoted the ability of health care workers to deny care based on their personal beliefs. That means hospitals and doctors could refuse to provide services they personally object to — including birth control, abortion, hormone therapy, and HPV vaccines.

Putting Patient Rights Second

It’s not only the 2018-2022 HHS strategic plan that encouraged health care workers to deny care to patients. It was also in new rules from the Trump administration. These “refusal policies” put health care providers’ personal beliefs ahead of a patient's rights and access to medical treatment.

Tracking Trump: Refusal Policies

Related Policies

The Title X Gag Rule

Title X

Planned Parenthood


Refusal Policies

Abortion Coverage

Birth Control Coverage

Sex Education