House Public Health

Jan. 17, 2023

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Department of Health introductions

Gilmore (ADH): Matt Gilmore, Department of Health.

Tierney (ADH): Thank you for allowing us to come, Mr. Chair. If it’s okay with you, I’d just like to give a very brief overview of the department and then introduce some of our leadership staff. So at the department, we have what would be looked at as a division. We call them centers. There’s five main centers in the Department of Health. The first center that we have is health advancement, and they’re responsible for– they have branches: chronic disease, family health, tobacco cessation, nutrition, and oral health. The second one is health protection, and we have some licensing and regulatory duties there. We have health facility licensing. We have injury prevention, which houses our suicide call line and our prescription drug monitoring program. They also have infectious disease, immunizations, and medical marijuana. And I’m just giving a broad overview. There’s a lot down in there.


Tierney (ADH): We have the Center for Health Practice, which actually houses our registries, two or three of those. We have trauma, we have hospital discharge, and we have the cancer registry there. It also has our epidemiological branch, which our epis put together information on reports, numbers, data, that kind of thing. And then we have our vital records section there, which of course does our birth certificates, death certificates. We also have our public health lab, which is our fourth one. They do newborn screening. They test for TB. They test for sexually transmitted infections, rabies, flus, mumps, measles, food, drinking water. And then last, we have our local public health, which is by far our largest center. We actually have a local health unit in all 75 counties. Some counties, we actually have two. In Pulaski County, we have even more than that.


Tierney (ADH): We work in conjunction and coordination with local officials there. The counties usually own the buildings that we’re housed in in the counties. They’re responsible for the building upkeep maintenance, that kind of thing. And then we actually provide the staff for our clinics there. And then in those clinics, we do screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, TB. We do some prenatal care there, immunizations. We do WIC. And then we have our environmental health specialists that actually go out, look at restaurants, septic systems, that kind of thing. And then, of course, with our star Matt, we have our boards and commissions that he’s over. We got 23 of those during transformation.


Tierney (ADH): So that’s just a broad overview of what we do at the department. And if okay, we have some staff here that I’d like to introduce so that you all can put faces to names. Don Adams– if they can stand– Don Adams is our deputy director of administration. He’s also taken on the interim chief of staff responsibilities while I’m interim secretary. We have Casey Cochran is our deputy director of programs. We have Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, who’s our director, and I should have introduced her first. So I apologize for that. We have Laura Shue. Laura Shue is our chief legal counsel. You all will also see her a lot while the session’s going on. Another attorney that will be over here a lot is Chuck Thompson. And then, of course you all know–


Gilmore (ADH): He’s back in the corner [laughter].


Tierney (ADH): You all know Matt, who you see quite often. Matt’s over our boards and commissions, and he also is our legislative liaison, our main one. So that’s my overview for today.


Rep L Johnson: Thank you. Does anyone have any questions for anyone at the Department of Health right now? Okay, thank you. No? Thank you for coming and taking the time. Everyone save these numbers. I’m sure you will be wanting to talk to them at some point as we move along your journey, and we appreciate you all coming and visiting with us today.


Gilmore (ADH): Thank you.


Tierney (ADH): Okay, I do want to say this is my easiest time, I think, ever at the table [laughter]. So I could get used to this.


Rep L Johnson: I promise we’ll make this more fun as time goes along. So there are a number of bills on the agenda, and it’s going to take a little bit for me to get accustomed to going back to the old system pre-COVID. The bills, as I understand our rules currently, are going to fall onto the agenda as they’re filed. The nuance still is this idea of which ones are going to need a fiscal impact or not. Segal and Consultants has been tracking that real-time, but at least one or two of these probably are going to fall into that category. And again, I appreciate any input from the committee on this process. What I’m planning to do is have a separate list, just like we do for scope, for bills that are waiting on fiscal impacts so that everyone on the committee, everyone in the public will know these bills can not be heard until the fiscal impact is back so we try to give a better real-time idea of what bills we’re going to actually be hearing on the day the committee meets.


Bills on agenda

Rep L Johnson: And, of course, I also know it’s early in the session. We’re filing bills and sometimes they’re still not quite ready to run. So we’ll start with Representative Pilkington. He has several bills there. Are you ready to run any of your bills today, Representative Pilkington?


Rep Pilkington: No. For three of them, because they deal with Medicaid, I’m still waiting for the Segals Group’s financial impact. The continuous glucose monitoring legislation, though, we can put that on deferred. I had a productive meeting this morning with DHS, and basically, it’s going to happen without legislation, which is the best kind of legislation.


Rep L Johnson: Yeah, I love it when that happens. Okay, so we’ll move that one down to deferred. And the other three, I’ll clarify on the fiscal impact issue. I’m not entirely sure if they’re just Medicaid but we’ll have to look at that. Representative McGrew, are you here today? Do you want to– do you want to run your bill today, or do you want to move it? Do you want me to keep it on the regular agenda for now, or do you want me to move it to deferred?


Rep McGrew: Move it to Thursday.


Rep L Johnson: Move it to Thursday. Okay, we’ll plan on hearing that on Thursday?


Rep McGrew: Yes.


Rep L Johnson: Okay. We’ll plan on holding you to it. Representative Maddox has told me he’s going to hold his bill for now. And my two bills, for now, we can put down to deferred. And I’ll make sure I’m alerted and when I’m ready to run those, we’ll put them back up on the regular agenda, assuming the rules allow that process. Does anyone have any questions about any of this procedurally? Yes, Representative Wardlaw.


Rep Wardlaw: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Can I get a request into staff for paper? I need a paper agenda and paper bills on a weekly basis, please.


Rep L Johnson: Absolutely. I bet we can accommodate that. Yes, Representative Allen. We just run the gamut. We’ll just do that. We’ll do that for everybody. The default will be you’ll get paper unless you call me and let me know you don’t want paper in which case we won’t. How about that? Yes. I understand. Representative Ladyman.


Rep Ladyman: The three bills I have move to deferred.


Rep L Johnson: Yeah, just let us know. And I would encourage members– my plan is to, as tightly as we can, if it’s on the agenda, I would like to try to run it. So the audience knows and is prepared and has that expectation. I understand that can be challenging at times. If you file a bill, and you have the expectation that it’s not going to be run, let me know so we can maybe make some sort of comment in the agenda. If we’re not going to move it to deferred, maybe we can work out some way of comment because I don’t want– I got several calls this weekend from people wondering about some of these bills. And again, we’re going to be feeling our way through the process and get adjusted back to the rules pre-COVID. So I’d like to try to have things as tightly as possible. If they’re on the agenda, the expectation be that we’re going to hear them. I know that can be challenging. We’ll do the best we can to work through that. Are there any other questions from committee members? All right, this is the quickest meeting we’re going to have. Meeting adjourned.