January 21, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH (DPH) COMMISSIONER NOMINEE
By: John Kasprak, Senior Attorney
COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC HEALTH (CGS §§ 19a-1a, -1d, AND -2)
The commissioner must utilize the most efficient and practical means of preventing and suppressing disease; be responsible for the overall operation and administration of the department; contract for facilities, services, and programs to implement the purposes of the department; secure, compile, and disseminate data on prevention and control of epidemics; inspect health care institutions; and oversee local directors of health.
1. Please describe the mission of DPH as you see it. As commissioner, how will you ensure that the department meets this mission? What particular talents, expertise, experience, and other assets do you bring to DPH?
2. Do you believe that the department has the adequate resources, in terms of both personnel and budget, to meet its obligations under the law?
3. Are you anticipating any restructuring of the agency in the near future that will have an effect on DPH duties, responsibilities, and priorities?
4. A public health policy principle is that good health policy decision-making depends on high quality health care data. Please describe the current condition and ability of DPH to collect, analyze, and use health care data in its day-to-day work. What limitations or barriers does the department face in this regard? Does DPH work, either formally or informally, with other state agencies on data issues?
5. If asked to prioritize those public health issues most important to you, what would they be?
6. You are leaving a position at the Massachusetts Bureau of Community Health and Prevention. Please describe some of your duties there. Do you anticipate facing similar issues in Connecticut that you addressed while in Massachusetts?
1. You have stated that one role you anticipate having in DPH is helping people see the role of public health in health reform activities. Please explain further what that means and how you intend to meet that challenge. Will you be an active participant in the development and implementation of Connecticut's “SustiNet” program?
2. Ensuring an adequate supply of primary care providers is an essential component of health care reform. This includes individual providers such as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and others as well as facilities such as community health centers, school-based health centers, and other emerging models. What role can DPH take in ensuring an adequate supply of primary care practitioners and facilities?
3. What strategies, initiatives, or programs would you like to see pursued in order to address health disparities in Connecticut?
4. Describe the interaction between DPH and the various licensure boards, particularly the Medical Examining Board. Does the state (legislature) need to reexamine this structure? Is it responsive not only to the regulated health practitioners but also to patients?
5. DPH works quite closely with local health departments. Recent legislation (PA 09-3, Sept. Special Session) changes the requirements that municipal and district health departments have to meet in order to receive state funding. Generally, the legislation requires towns to join together to form larger health departments meeting certain population targets in order to receive state funding. How are local health departments adapting to this? Have some towns had difficulty in partnering with others to form these new arrangements? Is this system proving to be more efficient?
6. That same 2009 legislation also merged the existing Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) with DPH and created an OHCA division within DPH under the direction of a deputy commissioner. How is this new structure functioning?
7. You are a physician, but have also worked in a number of university settings teaching medicine. Do you have any thoughts, comments, or ideas concerning the University Of Connecticut Health Center's renovation and expansion plans?