Wolf defends merging 4 agencies as way to eliminate red tape

Written by Marc Levy/The Associated Press | Jan 30, 2017 12:00 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf's administration says a plan to consolidate four state public health agencies into a single department will improve efficiency and eliminate red tape.

But a spokesman says any savings will be minimal since the administration's already pared back employee complements and won't cut programs.  

The Wolf administration made its first public comments on the plan Monday.

"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 in a statement. "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 Associated Press reported on Friday that the administration had notified agency employees of its plan, but gave no details. The Legislature must approve the plan.  

Wolf is scheduled to issue a new budget proposal in eight days that must deal with a massive budget deficit.  

The administration says the departments of Human Services, Health, Aging and Drug and Alcohol Programs would become the Department of Health and Human Services.

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