Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday that he had vetoed several bills, including House Bill 4020, which would have split the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources into two different agencies.
“We all want to address and correct the very real issues within DHHR, but before we undertake such a drastic change to an enormous agency that affects the lives of our most vulnerable West Virginians, I believe we need to take a deeper look at every aspect of how this would work,” Justice said.
“The bill, as presented, does not provide adequate direction on the many questions that must be addressed in this massive endeavor, including important questions regarding how the federal funds will flow to ensure we don’t jeopardize significant federal funding.
“Additionally, this bill would have split the DHHR by January of next year, but it wouldn’t have made budgetary changes take effect until six months after that. It is unclear how the different effective dates could work in concert.
“I am committed to making the DHHR better, but we cannot afford to play politics when people’s lives hang in the balance. We need to be certain before we act. So I am vetoing this bill. But I am also going to engage with national experts and industry leaders to coordinate and complete a top-to-bottom review of the DHHR, so that we may clearly identify its issues, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies.
“We will work to develop a plan to address any and all problems, which may very well require a full reorganization of the agency. But we will do so in an effective and efficient way, so we can make sure there is no lapse in any vital support or services for the West Virginians who rely on the DHHR.
“I look forward to working with the (state) Legislature and interested parties in developing and implementing that plan,” the governor said.