Wolf to Propose Folding 4 Agencies into 1; Facing a Severe Budget Squeeze, Gov. Tom Wolf Is Pushing to Consolidate Four State Agencies into a New Department of Health and Human Services, a Move Intended to Eliminate Duplication and Red Tape, While Streamlining Delivery of Services to Seniors, People with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities and Those Battling Addiction. [Derived Headline]

By Zwick, Kevin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 30, 2017 | Go to article overview

Wolf to Propose Folding 4 Agencies into 1; Facing a Severe Budget Squeeze, Gov. Tom Wolf Is Pushing to Consolidate Four State Agencies into a New Department of Health and Human Services, a Move Intended to Eliminate Duplication and Red Tape, While Streamlining Delivery of Services to Seniors, People with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities and Those Battling Addiction. [Derived Headline]


Zwick, Kevin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Facing a severe budget squeeze, Gov. Tom Wolf is pushing to consolidate four state agencies into a new Department of Health and Human Services, a move intended to eliminate duplication and red tape, while streamlining delivery of services to seniors, people with intellectual and physical disabilities and those battling addiction.

The Wolf administration said the four agencies -- the departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services -- sometimes provide overlapping services to the same groups.

The sweeping change is aimed at "providing better services while cutting unnecessary bureaucracy," Sarah Galbally, Wolf's top policy aide, said Monday in a call with reporters. Employees of the four agencies were notified about the proposal Friday evening. However, a reduction in staffing will be minimal, if any, she said.

Further details of any savings will be revealed Tuesday when Wolf delivers his budget proposal.

Monday's announcement came amid calls from legislative Republicans to trim the size of state government as lawmakers face steep budget challenges.

The proposal is a shift for the Democrat governor, who has proposed increasing broad-based taxes to generate revenues to balance the state budget. His prior proposals have been met with swift resistance from Republicans who control the Legislature.

In a statement, Wolf said he worked with the four department heads for months to figure how to integrate the programs to better deliver services while eliminating duplication.

"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," he said.

All four agencies have a role in addressing the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic. Under the proposal, the new Department of Health and Human Services will be the single state authority for federal Medicaid, substance abuse and mental health programs. …

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Wolf to Propose Folding 4 Agencies into 1; Facing a Severe Budget Squeeze, Gov. Tom Wolf Is Pushing to Consolidate Four State Agencies into a New Department of Health and Human Services, a Move Intended to Eliminate Duplication and Red Tape, While Streamlining Delivery of Services to Seniors, People with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities and Those Battling Addiction. [Derived Headline]
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