Governor announces official split of Alaska health and social services department

Gov. Dunleavy speaks from behind a lectern with health commissioner Adam Crum standing beside him
Adam Crum, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, listens as Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks concerning the division of the company into two smaller departments on March 21, 2022, within the Atwood Building in Anchorage. The Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services will probably be reorganized on July 1, 2022. (Screen seize of Office of the Governor livestream)

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services will probably be break up into two separate departments in July. Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed an analogous change final yr that he withdrew after nonprofit and tribal leaders, in addition to legislators, raised issues

Under the change, there will probably be a Department of Health that might proceed to do a lot of the work of the present Department of Health and Social Services, like overseeing the Medicaid program. Medicaid is likely one of the largest items of the state funds. 

The different new division would be the Department of Family and Community Services. It will oversee foster care, juvenile justice, Alaska Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. 

Adam Crum, the commissioner of the presently mixed division, mentioned the administration reached out to nonprofit and tribal organizations earlier within the course of this yr than final.    

“Over the last year, we have worked extensively with our stakeholder groups multiple times each week to make sure they understood what was going on,” he mentioned at a information convention on Monday.

Crum mentioned the massive variety of companies he oversees has meant that he and his employees have moved from one disaster to a different. And having two, extra targeted, departments will make that much less seemingly. 

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, mentioned the method went extra easily this yr. 

“The biggest difference this year was, we worked together and we worked together with stakeholder groups, front-line workers, division leaders, and the administration, as opposed to it sort of plunking down on the desk,” he mentioned. “We knew it needed to happen, but I think folks needed to warm up to the idea.”

But the method wasn’t fully clean. A lawyer for the Legislature raised potential authorized points with the plan. And the House Health and Social Services Committee supported blocking Dunleavy’s plan. 

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, a member of the committee, mentioned she would have preferred to have seen the administration incorporate extra public enter into the plan than it did. 

“We’ve heard that very successful reorganizations in other states have taken years to plan before going live,” she mentioned.

Last yr, the governor withdrew his proposal after the House committee proposed rejecting it. This yr, he didn’t, and Micciche says most senators supported the plan. 

Spohnholz famous that below state regulation, the commissioner sits on a number of state boards and commissions. And whereas the administration has divided up which commissioner would sit on which board, she mentioned these adjustments can’t occur with out the Legislature passing them. 

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