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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts: Health and Human Service’s Second Annual Business Plan Delivered Better Service for Clients, Taxpayers

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970

Matt Litt, Health and Human Services, 402-471-9313



LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts applauded achievements made over the past year by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as part of its second business plan.


“With their second annual business plan, Dr. Courtney Phillips and the team at DHHS delivered a higher level of service for the agency’s clients and better value for taxpayers,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Whether they are helping food stamp recipients become more financially independent or connecting more young people to mental health services, our team continues to deliver on their promise to help Nebraskans live better lives.” 


DHHS touches the lives of thousands of Nebraskans every day as it serves some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.  Launched during the summer of 2017, the business plan, titled “Good Life. Great Mission.” included initiatives aimed at integrating services, promoting independence, focusing on prevention, leveraging technology, and increasing operating efficiencies.


DHHS has fully completed 12 of the 15 initiatives due for completion by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and has made substantial progress on the others.   Overall, 139 of the 158 deliverables – approximately 88 percent – have been completed, including 95 percent of deliverables due in FY18.  The Department continues its work on the remaining initiatives.


“Our work at DHHS is driven by our mission of helping people live better lives and the results of the business plan helped us work toward fulfilling our mission,” said DHHS CEO Dr. Courtney Phillips.  “Our success is due to the tremendous efforts of my  dedicated teammates and their drive to fulfill our mission positively impacts our fellow Nebraskans.”


The outcomes achieved demonstrate that the commitment to improve services and processes can and will result in real change for Nebraskans.  Highlights from the second annual business plan include:


  • Sustaining Reforms at ACCESSNebraska: A commitment to continuous quality improvement resulted in sustained progress for ACCESSNebraska.  In 2014, before the current administration, customers were spending nearly 24 minutes on hold.  Thanks to the work of the team and sustained success, wait times have been reduced to less than five minutes for over two years now, and recently the agency celebrated the end of a court order, which ended a class action lawsuit.  Nebraska finished FY17 ranked 8th in the country for Active Error Rate with an accuracy rate of 95.94 percent.  Due to the team’s great performance, the federal government awarded Nebraska a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Performance Bonus of more than $600,000 to be reinvested.  
  • Addressing Opioid Abuse: DHHS is at the forefront of providing tools to support the reduction of prescription drug addictions and overdoses.  On January 1, 2018, Nebraska became the first state in the nation to require reporting of all dispensed prescription drugs to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a comprehensive tool allowing medication providers to more easily review a patient’s medication history.  Also, DHHS is working with pharmacists, physicians, and EMS providers to create educational resources and training on Naloxone, as well as an information campaign geared toward the public about access and use of the medication.  According to a recent analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nebraska has the distinction of having the least drug overdose deaths of any state in the nation, and initiatives like this will help the state maintain the ranking.
  • Growing Nebraska through Reemployment: Nebraska’s SNAP/Department of Labor Employment Program, which has received national recognition, expanded to Hastings, Columbus, and Norfolk over the last fiscal year.  The program helps participants achieve greater stability, a higher income, and less reliance on government assistance for those who participate and successfully complete the program.  This pilot reemployment program helped 36 percent of participants find a new job.  Those families have increased their pay approximately $10,000, and each has reduced or eliminated their need for food stamps.
  • Transforming Behavioral Healthcare for Children: Through partnerships, DHHS delivered more integrated mental health services through the Nebraska System of Care (NeSOC) for Children, Youth, and Families initiative.  NeSOC is designed to better coordinate resources and give a voice to families and children seeking mental health services.  In its first year, more than 600 young Nebraskans in crisis received services.  During that timeframe, the number of Nebraska youths who have needed to utilize the most intensive and restrictive services, such as inpatient care and residential treatment, has declined from 7.1 percent to 6.7 percent.  NeSOC now has the flexibility to serve more Nebraskans because of savings achieved in the range of $800,000 to $2.6 million.
  • Better Service for Nebraskans with Developmental Disabilities: In delivering services for Nebraskans with developmental disabilities, DHHS has been cutting red tape for families and providers.  In past years, the agency slashed the amount of paperwork families filled out and reduced the average wait time for eligibility determination by nearly 80 percent, from 69 days to an average of just 16.  In 2017, the agency made more service offers to Nebraskans with developmental disabilities than in the previous five years combined.


A full review of DHHS’ initiatives from the business plan can be found by clicking here.