Study suggests W.Va. DHHR split into 2 divisions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The state Department of Health and Human Resources should be split into two divisions to allow for more efficient use of agency resources, according to a consulting firm’s report.

State lawmakers meeting in interim sessions Tuesday were told that the study by Public Works LLC suggested the DHHR be restructured into divisions dealing with health care and human services.

The agency should focus on the root causes of high health-care costs, including maternal and newborn care, senior care, treatment of heart attack and stroke, and smoking cessation, the study said.

“West Virginia is spending a sizable amount of money on health care, and not getting the results you need,” Public Works President Eric Schnurer told the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability. “The resources can be better deployed to get the results you need.”

The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1f1EKyE) reports the study suggested consolidating 36 boards and commissions into three primary commissions on healthy lifestyles, clinical medical care and payments for services. It recommends that the Office of Inspector General focus mainly on Medicaid abuse and fraud.

It also called for the creation of an office to promote healthy lifestyles and good nutrition and suggested the establishment of an office to coordinate grant applications.

“We feel the state is missing a lot of opportunities for new funding, especially from the federal government,” Schnurer said.

Schnurer said DHHR officials cooperated with auditors.

“You’re going to see a lot of the recommendations implemented, and fairly soon,” he told lawmakers.

A study completed by Public Works for the state in 2008 made more than 30 recommendations to cut government waste and improve efficiencies, saving an estimated $200 million a year. It also conducted an audit of West Virginia’s public education system that became the basis for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education legislation passed during the regular session.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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