Wolf ac­tions in­di­cate plan to merge state agen­cies has been tabled

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local News - By Kate Gi­ammarise

Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

With the nom­i­na­tion of sep­a­rate state Health and Hu­man Ser­vices sec­re­taries by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thurs­day, it ap­pears a plan to merge those two state agen­cies is off the ta­ble — at least for now.

On Thurs­day, he nom­i­nated act­ing Sec­re­tary of Health Rachel Levine and act­ing Sec­re­tary of Hu­man Ser­vices Teresa Miller to serve as sec­re­taries of their re­spec­tive agen­cies, pend­ing ap­proval by the Penn­syl­va­nia State Sen­ate.

As part of the bud­get, the gover­nor had ini­tially pro­posed merg­ing four agen­cies — the de­part­ments of Hu­man Ser­vices, Health, Ag­ing, and Drug and Al­co­hol Pro­grams — into one. The plan was touted as pro­vid­ing tax­payer sav­ings and bet­ter ser­vices for those who need as­sis­tance from more than one agency.

The web­site tout­ing the ben­e­fits of agency uni­fi­ca­tion and lay­ing out fur­ther de­tails now just leads to bud­get in­for­ma­tion.

The idea met with re­sis­tance from some ad­vo­cates and leg­is­la­tors, par­tic­u­larly con­cern­ing the Depart­ment of Ag­ing and the Depart­ment of Drug and Al­co­hol Pro­grams. Many leg­is­la­tors voiced con­cerns about mov­ing too hastily to com­bine agen­cies in or­der to meet a bud­get dead­line, oth­ers said they did not want to see se­nior is­sues or drug ad­dic­tion is­sues lose

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