Gov. Doug Burgum announced that the integration of North Dakota’s Department of Health and Department of Human Services into one Health and Human Services (HHS) agency is effective today, Sept. 1, 2022.
The agency will be led by HHS Commissioner Chris Jones. State Health Officer Dr. Nizar Wehbi will provide vision, leadership and consultation on state health priorities.
“North Dakota’s Department of Health and Department of Human Services have a long history of working together to serve North Dakotans,” Burgum said. “Today the two departments have officially integrated into one agency, and we are deeply grateful for the hard work so many team members have invested in this effort. As a unified health and human services team, HHS has the opportunity to transform the citizen experience and help North Dakota become the healthiest state in the nation.”
With a combined portfolio of more than 100 programs and services, the HHS team has a significant, long-term opportunity to transform how it collectively meets the health and well-being needs of North Dakotans.
“We view Sept. 1 as our beginning,” Jones said. “Our priority is to streamline and strengthen the path to quality and equitable programs and services by working as one team and more efficiently collaborating with providers and partners to improve the lives of North Dakotans. This work is critical today and will continue beyond Sept. 1.”
The integration came as a result of House Bill 1247, which was introduced by Rep. Robin Weisz, chair of the House Human Services Committee, and co-championed by Sen. Judy Lee, chair of the Senate Human Services Committee. Other co-sponsors included Reps. Bill Devlin, Gary Kreidt, Karen Rohr and Matt Ruby, as well as Sen. Howard Anderson.
“North Dakotans have had to navigate a complex system of agencies and programs to access services supporting their health and well-being,” Weisz said. “By bringing these two agencies together, we will simplify access, build on each agency’s strengths, enhance collaboration, and most importantly, deliver programs and services more efficiently and effectively to the citizens of North Dakota.”
Health and Human Services provides services that help North Dakotans of all ages enhance their well-being and quality of life by supporting equitable access to the social determinants of health, which include economic stability, housing, education, food, community and behavioral and physical health. The combined agency employs about 2,400 team members who are based across the state.