The current director of ACHI, Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH, was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe (D) to serve as the first surgeon general for Arkansas in 2007. He has served in a similar capacity since 2005, as the state’s chief health officer at the request of Governor Mike Huckabee (R).
As Surgeon General, he is responsible for identifying strategies and shaping policies to improve the health of Arkansans and serves as a cabinet-level advisor to the governor. This work is performed under a contract with the Arkansas Department of Health to enable dedication of 50 percent of Dr. Thompson’s time to his work as the surgeon general.
The role of Surgeon General for the State of Arkansas was formally established by the Arkansas General Assembly in the 2007 General Session as Act 384 of 2007. This Act defines the surgeon general’s duties to include, but not be limited to:
- reviewing, assessing, and developing health policy options, including insurance coverage, health risk management, disease prevention, and health promotion strategies across state agencies;
- providing policy options for the governor and senior state agency officials;
- raising awareness of health care and public health areas of priority for advancement of the health of Arkansans;
- reviewing legislative analyses and proposed legislation and creating position statements for the governor and senior state agency officials;
- advising the governor, senior state agency officials, and governing boards and commissions on policy issues and program accomplishments; and
- providing medical review oversight and guidance to health and human services clinical programs upon request.
Fulfilling the role of surgeon general has been deemed to complement the work of ACHI and is consistent with the stated research and policy development roles of the director.
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