Outgoing DHHR deputy cites differences with Crouch, agency challenges

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West Virginia’s assistant secretary of health and human resources, who abruptly parted ways with the agency, today outlined the pervasive challenges and differences of opinion with Secretary Bill Crouch on how to address them. manage.

Samples of Jeremiah

“Unfortunately, Secretary Crouch and I did not share the same views on the issues, how to handle them, or the urgency of getting results, but I respect this parting of ways and pray for success. of the state in addressing these issues,” Jeremiah Samples, former deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, said in a statement released today.

Samples, a longtime employee of the agency, abruptly left DHHR on Friday. DHHR would only confirm that he is gone.

Crouch, in a press conference today, described the situation as a personnel matter.

Bill Crouch

“It’s a personnel thing, and we’re not going to go into detail about that,” Crouch said. “But as the governor often says, we all have to pull the rope in the same direction. It’s a big agency. We need to have everyone on board when it comes to what we do.

Governor Jim Justice also said he would not discuss the details of Samples’ departure.

“I’m not going to get into personnel matters with any individual,” Justice said. “I’m not going to do it because I don’t know a lot of details. And it’s really not becoming for me to do that. I’m going to thank Jeremiah for the work he’s done here.

Samples was highly respected and often praised in the state Legislature for his insight into politics and his knowledge of the agency’s budget.

“Whenever a legislator, especially me as finance chair, has a question about any information I need to know within DHHR, whether budget or contract related, who to contact would be Jeremiah,” Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R.-Putnam, said today on “580 Live” on WCHS Radio.

“And Jeremiah would be Johnny there, getting the information we needed, getting the information we needed – and also trying to make aggressive, quick and positive change when we asked for something to be done if it could be done. outside of legislative action.

DHHR was among several burning issues during the last legislative session. A bill that Governor Jim Justice eventually vetoed would have split the agency into two, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Resources. Lawmakers from both sides said a split would make it easier to manage the agency’s budget and tasks.

Another foster care-focused bill would have established a front-end dashboard meant to provide more information on how to help vulnerable children in the system, but lawmakers failed to complete its passage.

And state senate leaders have called for an audit of the agency, expressing concern over numerous long-term issues related to finances, information technology issues, staffing shortages, the status of foster children sent out of state for care, etc.

Samples, in his statement today, alluded to many of these issues.

“Despite an allocated budget of approximately $7.5 billion, tireless dedication from staff and wonderful commissioners, and an expectation of success from the Governor, DHHR has struggled to make, and even lost, progress. in many critical areas,” Samples said.

“Child protection, substance use disorders, protection of the vulnerable, management of state health facilities, EMS and provider capacity, support for client transition from public assistance to the labor market, contract management and many other DHHR responsibilities simply did not meet anyone’s expectations, especially mine.

“Although the answers to these problems are complex, solutions must be found. As a society, we can never forget that every statistic is a real person. We must do better.

He continued, “For every child protected from harm and supported by their family, I am much more aware of, even haunted, by those who have not been saved or who will not be saved tomorrow. I cannot properly express the level of responsibility that I personally feel for those who suffer and struggle whom I have not been able to help.

Lawmakers, including House Majority Amy Summers, R-Taylor, have publicly endorsed that assessment. Delegate Kayla Young, a Democrat from Kanawha County, agreed.

Diane Graves

Delegate Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, also praised Samples for her knowledge and insight. Graves was a strong supporter of the DHHR’s reorganization, and during the legislative session criticized Crouch’s apprehensions.

“What is happening to Jeremiah is an example of the dysfunction within DHHR. When DHHR has an employee who works hard, who is brilliant and dedicated, who could go somewhere else and do so much more…and yet is fired for what amounts to a technicality, there is obviously a serious leadership problem that must be resolved,” Graves said today.

Graves said the governor is well aware of the issues that need to be addressed at DHHR and wants to address them.

“He knows Jeremiah and people like him are part of the solution to these problems. Jeremiah is transparent beyond his abilities, has the full confidence of the Legislative Assembly, and is one of the best public servants I have ever worked with,” Graves said.

“Does anyone understand how rare that is in an arena filled with intrigue and suspicion? To have officials who will speak the truth even when it’s hard to hear, who will serve beyond this which is required because they actually care about the people of this state? Jeremiah is one of those people. His loss to DHHR is incalculable.

Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, alluded to the pervasive problems at DHHR and praised Samples for her efforts to alleviate them.

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