Gov. Jim Justice has approved a bill reorganizing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The governor signed House Bill 2006 on Saturday, according to a letter from his office to House of Delegates Clerk Steve Harrison.
The bill will end the DHHR and create the Department of Health, the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Health Facilities. The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
In a statement Monday morning, DHHR interim Cabinet secretary Dr. Jeffrey Coben said the department is “ready to implement and uphold the intent of the Legislature.”
“Under the direction of Gov. Justice, we will work to ensure a seamless transition to a new organizational structure over the course of this next year,” Coben said. “DHHR leadership and our dedicated staff look forward to working with all stakeholders to optimize the functions and services we provide to West Virginians.”
This is the second year the Legislature has passed a bill to reorganize the DHHR. During the 2022 legislative session, Justice vetoed a bill that would have divided the department into three agencies. Instead, he called for a $1 million top-to-bottom review of the agency from the Virginia-based McChrystal Group LLC.
That group’s report did not support dividing up the agency. Instead, it called for restructuring the DHHR around an executive leadership team with six leaders serving as state health officer, director of threat preparedness, chief operating officer, deputy secretary for child welfare, deputy secretary for access and eligibility, and deputy secretary for substance use disorder.
The Governor’s Office did not return a message seeking comment Monday.
Under the legislation, the Department of Human Resources will contain the bureaus of social services, medical services, child support, family assistance and behavioral health.
The Department of Health will include the Bureau of Public Health, the Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Center for Threat Preparedness, the Health Care Authority, and the Office of the Inspector General and its subsidiary offices.
The Department of Health Facilities will oversee the state’s hospitals.
Lori Kersey covers the city and county. She can be reached at 304-348-1240 or email@example.com. Follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.