Beebe Re-examining Merger of Health, Human Services

JANUARY 16, 2007 - Posted at 7:38 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Beebe says he is considering many options to address problems in the state Health and Human Services Department, including splitting up the two-year-old agency.

Beebe's predecessor, former Governor Mike Huckabee, pushed to make the Health Department part of the Department of Human Services in 2005, saying the merger would make state government more efficient.

The Legislature enacted his plan, and the Human Service Department's nearly 8,000 employees and $4 billion annual budget merged with the Health Department's 2,700 employees and budget of up to $300 million a year.  About one million Arkansans are served by the combined agency.

Beebe says splitting up the department is only one of many options he is considering.

Beebe says the workers in the Health Division tell him morale is low and services need to be improved.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)