Advocates and Organizations Share Their Support for Wolf Administration’s Plan to Create Department of Health and Human Services (Round-Up)

By: Eryn Spangler, Press Assistant

February 01, 2017

Earlier this week, Governor Wolf announced that his administration will consolidate the Departments of Aging (PDA), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Health (DOH), and Human Services (DHS) to create the Department of Health and Human Services.

“This new department will streamline government and allow the commonwealth to deliver more effective services to seniors, individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, and those suffering from a substance use disorder as well as promote the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Over the past several months, I have worked closely with these four departments to break down silos and reimagine how we deliver critical services that will provide treatment to those suffering from substance use disorder, ensure children are receiving high quality services, and expand community-based opportunities for seniors. The creation of a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services will not result in any program cuts for Pennsylvanians, but will dramatically improve our ability to deliver services that will improve lives.“

The four state agencies that will merge to create the Department of Health and Human Services have the same core mission: to improve public health and quality of life for all residents of the commonwealth. Currently, these agencies serve similar, and sometimes overlapping, populations. The creation of a Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services will promote more collaboration and service delivery, enhance program effectiveness, and eliminate duplicative processes.

Advocates and organizations from the health and human service fields have voiced their support of the creation of this new department.

Take a look at the comments below:

  • Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability

    (PAR) is a nonprofit organization that represents home and community-based service providers in Pennsylvania. PAR members provide services and supports to tens of thousands of individuals in Pennsylvania with autism and/or intellectual disability.

    “We support the proposed merger as it presents an opportunity for the Commonwealth to achieve efficiencies and savings that in turn can be invested in the provision of quality care and services for the people we support and the workforce who supports them,” said Shirley Walker, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability

  • Pennsylvania Health Care Association

    (PHCA) is a statewide advocacy organization for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable older residents and their providers of care. Members comprise for-profit, nonprofit and government providers.

    “We support the Administration’s proposal to create a Department of Health and Human Services,” said W. Russell McDaid, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “The agencies that Administration is proposing to merge have a wide range of responsibilities, including administering the state’s $20-plus billion Medicaid program, containing funding for nursing facility care; distributing aid to programs for the disabled; managing services for older Pennsylvanians through the lottery fund; licensing and surveying skilled nursing facilities and licensing and inspecting assisted living residences and personal care homes. This proposal will allow the state’s regulatory agencies and the Medicaid program to work in unison to develop policies that positively impact nursing home residents and direct care workers creating efficiencies that will hopefully ensure that even more resources are provided at a resident’s bedside, where they are needed the most, while continuing to make certain that Pennsylvania’s seniors and individuals with disabilities continue to receive quality care.”

  • Center for Health Care Strategies

    (CHCS) is a nonprofit policy center dedicated to improving the health of low-income Americans.

    “Consolidation of Health and Human Services departments is good public policy,” said Secretary Estelle Richman, Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.. “It supports better client services, assures that policy and operations are in sync, and focuses attention on gaps in policy and services, thus enhancing outcomes and assuring dollars are allocated and spent effectively and efficiently.”

  • Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates

    (PPA) works in partnership with the three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, the state public affairs office in Harrisburg, works to achieve maximum public, governmental and media support for reproductive health care – including family planning – by developing, implementing and facilitating a statewide strategy.

    “Since his first day in office, Gov. Wolf has promised to create a ‘government that works’ by promoting collaboration, streamlining the delivery of services to save limited state resources, and preserving access to the programs that Pennsylvanians need to get healthy and stay healthy,” Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates. “This consolidation fulfills that promise. The governor long has been a champion for family planning and other health and wellness programs that benefit women. Those issues remain a priority here. We’re confident in the governor’s approach and look forward to working with the administration to realize their commitments.”

  • SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

    The state’s largest and fastest growing union of nurses and healthcare workers, uniting nearly 45,000 nurses, professional and technical employees, direct care workers, and service employees in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home and community-based services, and State facilities across the Commonwealth. SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members are committed to improving the lives of healthcare workers and ensuring quality care and healthy communities for all Pennsylvanians.

    “Since day one, Governor Wolf has prioritized responsible, efficient use of our public tax dollars to the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. His newly created Department of Health and Human Services will further streamline the delivery of services to our state’s most vulnerable citizens while reducing unnecessary spending,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “We are confident the creation of the new Department of Health and Human Services will not result in any program cuts for Pennsylvanians, but will dramatically improve the ability of providers and consumers to deliver and receive services that will improve lives.”

  • Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania

    (MHAPA) is a nonprofit organization that reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Commonwealth, works on behalf of the mental health of its citizens, instilling principles that facilitate recovery and resiliency of individuals and their families, through advocacy, education, and public policy.

    “In a difficult funding environment, it is far better to try something like this than to cut services,” said Sue Walther, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.” [Post-Gazette, 1/30/17]

  • Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

    A strong, effective and trusted voice to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in the Commonwealth.

    “Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said any move that makes government operate more efficiently and hopefully makes it easier for families to access the services they need for kids is something her group is going to support. “We also will create efficiencies that make it easier for private sector providers to participate in our programs. In the long run, we think there’s a likelihood of economies of scale that help you save public resources and move them from [the operation of a department] to the delivery of services which is the goal.” [PennLive, 1/30/17]

  • Arc of Pennsylvania

    Promotes the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

    “Maureen Cronin, executive director of The Arc of Pennsylvania, sees advantages gained by having a single state agency look at individuals and their family needs as a whole when it comes to addressing their service needs…. “…I just hope people have an open mind that there is really some amazing opportunities when you are all at the same table to look at people as a whole,’ Cronin said.” [PennLive, 1/30/17]


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