DHS, Health Department Merger Takes Effect in Arkansas Today

AUGUST 12, 2005 - Posted at 7:32 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A state law merges two of Arkansas' largest agencies today as the new Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services opens, serving more than one million people.

The new department is a merger of the Department of Health and Department of Human Services.

The law creating the new Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services is among statutes passed during this year's regular legislative session that become effective, along with laws creating a new state Agriculture Department.

The new department director John Selig said that, besides the name change on buildings and stationery, patrons will see few differences in services right away.

Some lawmakers were leery of combining the two troubled agencies into a single behemoth.  But the promise of saving $2.5 million a year garnered enough support for passage.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)