WVU policy expert weighs in on legislation to split West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

WTAP News @ 6 - DHHR Legislation Update
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:29 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The West Virginia legislature is still considering legislation that, if passed into law, would split the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources into three departments.

WTAP spoke with WVU public administration professor Dr. Christopher Plein about some of the potential impacts of splitting DHHR apart.

Plein said a split could have the benefit of putting departmental leaders closer to the ground, strengthening focus within the department.

At the same time, Plein said that there are already concerns about “silos” within the department’s many bureaus that create issues with communication and coordination across the department. “Creating three different agencies with three different departments doesn’t necessarily solve that problem,” Plein said.

Dr. Plein said that, however the reforms at DHHR go forward, policy makers need to keep in mind the importance of communication and accountability when it comes to successfully administering health and human services.

Governor Justice, who vetoed legislation to break DHHR up last year, said that his previous decision on the subject shouldn’t be taken as an indication of how he will vote this time around.

The legislation to split the DHHR is currently under review by the House Finance Committee.