Five of the top jobs in the Health and Human Services Department are vacant, now that Thomas R. Donnelly Jr., assistant secretary for legislation, has decided to go to the White House to become deputy to Kenneth M. Duberstein, assistant to the president for legislative affairs.
The undersecretary's position also will be open because John A. Svahn is leaving to become assistant to the president for policy development. Also vacant will be Svahn's old job as commissioner of the Social Security Administration, which he had continued to hold while serving as undersecretary, although he only drew one salary.
In addition, no successors have been announced to replace Dr. William H. Foege as the director of the Centers for Disease Control, or Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
An aide to Secretary Margaret M. Heckler said a number of people are under consideration for some of the jobs.***
CASH GIFT . . . The Social Security trust funds got a transfusion of $23.2 billion from the Treasury a few months ago as the first installment of the plan Congress enacted last spring to shore up the system.
The money covered Social Security military-service wage credits that had been given free to certain armed forces personnel. Before the new law took effect, the Treasury paid Social Security for the costs of the credit-based benefits when the individuals retired and benefits came due.
In the 1983 amendments, Congress said the Treasury should pay off the credits in advance without waiting for the beneficiaries to retire. The $23.2 billion payment doubled the trust fund's reserves.***
TAXING HEALTH INSURANCE . . . Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in a Harris Poll last month opposed the idea of making a part of health insurance premiums paid by employers taxable as income to employes. Even before the poll surfaced, the Reagan administration's proposal for such a tax had been rejected in the House Ways and Means Committee, and put aside for lack of support in the Senate Finance Committee.***
NURSING HOME FACTS . . . In 1980, according to an advance look at a National Center for Health Statistics survey of nursing homes for the aged, there were 23,065 homes containing 1,537,338 beds, 91 percent of which were occupied.
Half of the homes had fewer than 50 beds; 81 percent of the homes, representing 70 percent of the beds, were operated for profit. The Midwest had 36 percent of the homes, far more than the East (16 percent), West (25 percent) or South (23 percent). Overall, the nation averaged 60.3 beds per 1,000 people 65 and over. Overall, 952,600 people worked full time in the homes; 62,200 were registered nurses and 76,700, licensed practical nurses.***
SSI FACTS . . . At the end of 1981, about 4 million people were receiving Supplemental Security Income payments, the Social Security Administration recently reported in a thumbnail sketch of the federal welfare program for the aged, blind and disabled. To qualify, a person must be poor and either over 65, blind or disabled.
Program payments totaled $8.6 billion in 1981. Three-quarters of that amount was federal money, with the rest provided by the states. Monthly payments averaged $143 to the aged individuals and $223 to aged couples. Disabled individuals received $218 on average, and couples, $273. Half of all SSI recipients also received Social Security benefits.
Eighty-nine percent of SSI recipients lived in their own households, 6 percent lived in another person's household and 5 percent in long-term care institutions. Of the 4 million recipients, 2.2 million were disabled 1.7 million qualified because of age and 78,750 because of blindness.
The disability and blindness rolls included 230,000 children, half between the ages of 10 and 17. Of all those receiving SSI, 27 percent were black, more than double the proportion of blacks in the nation (12 percent). Two-thirds of all SSI recipients were women, including three-quarters of those receiving aid because of age, reflecting women's longer life spans.