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Work begins to restructure the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services


March 21, 2022
Monday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Now that Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy's Executive Order 121 (EO 121) has become law, the Alaska Department and Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced today they will be focused on the ongoing organizational work needed to create two separate departments by the implementation date of July 1, 2022.
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“Reorganization will create an environment for innovation and greater responsiveness,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The two departments will be able to manage their programs more efficiently and more responsibly to the constituents they serve. And they’ll be able to work on long-term strategic goals such as focused stakeholder engagement, federal partner negotiations, and Alaska-specific solutions for health care.”

The budget of DHSS is bigger than 12 other state departments’, the legislature, court system and Governor’s office combined. A small executive team of five people manage 3,200 employees.

Quoting a news release from the Alaska DHSS, restructuring DHSS will allow for a stronger alignment of missions across divisions and programs within the two departments, and the time and space for each department to work with beneficiaries, providers and partners to improve the system of care. 

On July 1, 2022, the two departments will be two separate legal entities.

“This has been a long, deliberate process to get to this point, and I appreciate all of the stakeholders who engaged with us and helped shape this process,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum. “I’d like to thank the Legislature for their thoughtful review of the Executive Order. This process has spanned two legislative sessions and the end result is stronger because of the legislative review process.” 

“The reorganization was designed to not disrupt services to beneficiaries or payments to providers,” said Crum. “These two departments allow for proper management and support to work on improving critical services delivered to and for Alaskans.”

EO 121 was proposed by Governor Dunleavy at the start of this legislative session under the constitutional authority in Article 3 Section 23, which also grants the legislature a period of 60 days to evaluate executive orders and vote to disprove them in a joint session. Absent legislative action, executive orders become law.

“This is only the beginning,” Crum added. “Over the next few months, we will continue to engage with stakeholders to make sure the transition plan covers what it needs do. Post-implementation we will be conducting regular reviews of the process to ensure Alaskans continue to be served by these smaller, more nimble departments.”

EO 121 restructures the state’s department with the largest budget and number of employees into two departments aligned by key functions. The restructuring was designed to ensure continuity of services to beneficiaries and timely payments to providers. Services to the public were kept intact so operations could continue uninterrupted. 

While both departments serve Alaskans, they have different focus areas and missions: 

Department of Family and Community Services (DFCS): Offers direct care to Alaskans 24/7 either in a facility or in the community.

DFCS aligns the facility-based divisions and around the clock community work of the Office of Children’s Services. DFCS will focus on providing direct care services to Alaskans. 

Includes these divisions: 

    • Division of Juvenile Justice
    • Alaska Psychiatric Institute
    • Alaska Pioneer Homes
    • Office of Children’s Services

Department of Health (DOH): Aligns divisions that focus on payments, processes and programs

DOH oversight includes program eligibility, public health, and the Medicaid program. DOH’s alignment of payment, processes and programs will provide time and space for necessary stakeholder conversations and negotiations for future innovations within Medicaid and Public Health, improving health outcomes for all Alaskans.

Includes these divisions: 

    • Division of Public Health
    • Division of Public Assistance
    • Division of Behavioral Health
    • Division of Health Care Services
    • Division of Senior and Disabilities Services

On the Web:

Download the Pdf on the reorganization

Executive Order 121 

Edited By: Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Alaska Dept of Health & Social Services

Office of Governor Mike Dunlevy

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