Major Advocates Agree that the Unification of Health and Human Service Agencies is a Change for the Good.

By: Sarah Galbally, Secretary of Policy and Planning

June 20, 2017

As Governor Wolf has said many times, change is hard and people are understandably wary of it.

That suspicion of change has been true at times when talking about the proposed unification of the departments of Health, Human Services, Aging, and Drug and Alcohol Programs into the Department of Health and Human Services.

It is understandable that people may worry that the services they are accustomed to receiving won’t be available or may be more difficult to access. Some critics feel people will fall through the cracks, services will be diminished, programs undervalued and people underserved.

Over the past months, Governor Wolf has worked closely with each of the four departments to ensure that doesn’t happen, and to identify and break down silos and reimagine how we deliver critical health and human services that benefit all Pennsylvanians, but especially seniors, people with disabilities and those recovering from substance abuse disorder.

The work has been tireless and will bring about change. And now, major advocates for seniors, people with disabilities, and health and human services organizations are rallying around this change. Change for the good.

The recent announcement of a robust group of interested – and vocal – advocates’ endorsement of the unification is more than a vote of confidence for this important step to streamline services. It’s a stamp of approval for an initiative that has been carefully thought out and refined to meet the needs of many.

These groups include: Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association (RCPA), The Arc of Pennsylvania, The Alliance of PA Councils, PA Health Access Network (PHAN), Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging (P4A), Pennsylvania Homecare Association, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania, Equality Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association – Greater PA Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association – Delaware Valley Chapter, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR).

“Having the support of this broad coalition of senior and human services advocates strengthens my administration’s efforts to break down silos, increase government efficiency, and listen across party lines and ideologies to develop a practical solution of integrating these vital human services agencies into one unified Department of Health and Human Services. I applaud these organizations for sharing their ideas as we move through this process and for their support as we make the new department a reality for the people of Pennsylvania. I am grateful to this group for their contribution and that of the General Assembly and the many people at DDAP, DHS, Health and Aging who are working tirelessly to make this change an easy one for many.” – Governor Tom Wolf

For more information on the HHS unification and a complete list of endorsement statements, visit governor.pa.gov/hhs.

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