Earlier this week, Governor Wolf announced his plan to create a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his 2017-2018 budget, which would unite the Departments of Aging (PDA), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Health (DOH), and Human Services (DHS) in order to help provide more streamlined services to Pennsylvanians.
One group of Pennsylvanians the creation of this new department will benefit is seniors. Currently, older Pennsylvanians have to work through multiple agencies for the health and human services that they need. For example, seniors:
- Receive prescription assistance from PACE through PDA while locating where to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs through DDAP
- Apply for the aging waiver through DHS while seeking home and community-based services through PDA
- Search for information on the quality of nursing homes through DOH while reporting concerns to PDA once they’re in a facility. If those concerns result in an investigation that identifies a deficiency as threatening to a persons’ life or safety, that investigation and the subsequent penalties associated with it are administered by DOH.
Older Pennsylvanians will now have one point of service with the Department of Health and Human Services. This will result in less confusion and easier access as constituents and their families seek services. It also builds on the Wolf Administration’s commitment to enabling citizens to age in place by preventing instability of health and wellness and protecting the most vulnerable from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and exploitation.
Seniors will not see any cuts to their programs due to the creation of this new department and it will have no impact on how lottery fund monies are used to support senior programs. In fact, senior benefits and programs will be bolstered by the focus of a single agency.
The Wolf Administration is dedicated to continue providing the same services as required under the Older Americans Act, while improving the quality of services for seniors by eliminating the unnecessary duplication of effort and the confusion it creates among Pennsylvania’s seniors and their families.
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