CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Services should be split into two divisions focusing on health care and on human services, a study by Public Works LLC advises.
Restructuring the department into divisions will allow agency resources to be used more efficiently, Public Works president Eric Schnurer told legislators Tuesday.
"We're for bifurcation, but not separation," he said of the study.
Schnurer said there has been ongoing debate about whether the 5,700-employee department is too unwieldy, but said there also should be coordination between its two main missions of providing health care and providing services to low-income families.
"West Virginia spends a good amount of money addressing health-care issues. It's not a laggard," Schnurer told the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability.
Despite that spending, state outcomes in public health and public welfare remain poor, he said.
"West Virginia is spending a sizable amount of money on health care, and not getting the results you need," he said, adding, "The resources can be better deployed to get the results you need."
The study concludes that the state 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.
It recommends creating an Office of Health Care Improvement to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and good nutrition, not unlike the currently dormant Governor's Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning.