Tuesday, February 24, 2009
In a year of government cutbacks, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is proposing an expansion of the Department of Aging to cover services not just for the elderly but also disabled Pennsylvanians. The administration says the move would streamline duplicated services and increase the effectiveness of state-provided care. Acting Aging Secretary John Michael Hall agrees. He says right now, his department and the Department of Public Welfare are covering much of the same ground. At a budget hearing Hall said, “It means that policy takes forever to issue. It means that people have been frustrated with the fact that you keep having the same debates year after year. Providers get different instructions and different guidance depending on who they talk to.” Hall says this isn't a government expansion. He argues it would save money, and eliminate 32 state jobs. Hall says his department needs to make sure it can still provide services during bad economic times, noting vulnerable Pennsylvanians rely on the state for help whether there's a recession or not. The Department of Aging oversees prescription drug programs and other senior health care initiatives.