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No More RI Department of Health?

May 24, 2010

At 2pm today, the house finance committee will review a bill (H7408) co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Costantino that would consolidate the department of health, of children youth and families,  elderly affairs,  human services, and mental health, retardation and hospitals into a single department.

The five departments mushed together would be called the department of health and human services.  My reading of the bill makes it seem the current heads of those departments would then be demoted to “division chiefs.”

Predictably, Dr David Gifford, the Director of the Department of Health, does not like this idea.  He penned a letter to the finance committee which opposes the legislation.  Gifford says there’s no financial reason to merge the departments together.

No budget savings occur by merging DOH as finance, HR, Legal, IT have all been merged already. Also, DOH represents <5% of all OHHS Departments overall budget (FY10 enacted DOH $132M vs $2,841M for all OHHS Departments)

I’ve put a call out to Rep Costantino and Rep Eileen Naughton (another co-sponsor) and will post their rationale for the bill once I hear from them.

Update- Rep Naughton says the bill would make these departments more efficient and accessible.  Rather than having to go to the health department  to take care of one area of business, and then heading over to the department of human services to take care of something else,  Rhode Islanders could go to either location to take care of all of their needs.

She does not expect job losses as a result of the consolidation.

House finance is setting up a work group to tweak the proposals according to feed back  it received last night.

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