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Texas Health and Human Services Commission to Restructure, Not Reduce Size

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has begun the major restructuring dictated by the 2015 Texas Legislature.

The Lone Star State’s health agencies are undergoing “massive restructuring” and will reduce from five agencies to three.

A statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from HHSC says that the restructuring is designed “to make the system more efficient, effective and responsive for all Texans.”

According to the stated intent of Texas Senate Bill 200, the “legislation reorganizes health and human service delivery in Texas.” “Building on the Sunset reviews of the five health and human services agencies, the reorganization consolidates administrative services as directed by current law, and further promotes accountability, reduces fragmentation, and streamlines operations across the system.”

The bill reorganizes the five existing health and human services agencies into one agency, the Health and Human Services Commission. Moreover, it will now be structured “along functional lines.” The legislation is also intended to make Medicaid processes more efficient by streamlining enrollment for Medicaid providers and adapting the processes within managed care.

A final version of the Health and Human Services System Transition Plan was posted on August 19th. HHSC says that the final plan takes into account feedback received from those who are affected by the programs and services, and the Health and Human Services Transition Legislative Oversight Committee.

Beginning September 1, approximately 4,000 employees and over 120 programs and functions will be rearranged under the Commission umbrella.

According to HHSC’s website, HHSC oversees the Texas health and human services system which is comprised of five agencies: HHSC; the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), Department of State Health Services (DSHS); Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), and the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). TDFPS includes Child Protective Services, also commonly known as “CPS.” DFPS also currently includes licensing of child care.

This restructuring beginning the first of September is the first of what the Commission is calling “two waves.” Officials say the transformation will make services to Texans more efficient and easier to locate.

This first wave is moving many of the services and administrative functions to HHSC where HHSC already administers Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Medicaid) and other program services.

A year from this September on the first of the month in 2017, HHSC will start the second wave. Certain regulatory programs, state hospitals and state supported living centers, will be moved to HHSC from the other agencies.

“This is a monumental effort that’s happening behind the scenes. Most people won’t notice a change, other than hopefully it’s easier for them to find what they need,” said Executive Commissioner Charles Smith. “It’s a work in progress, and we’re putting the system together in a way that puts Texans first.”

Texans visiting the HHSC website on and after September 1st, will see a newly designed website. The revamped website will include one large section that is exclusively set aside for services. This section will include subcategories that correspond to the types of services offered. Officials say that the services will be categorized by aging, disabilities, women and children’s services and programs, food and fitness, child protective services, and other service categories. According to a statement from the agency, the website will be easier to use and will have a more streamlined look.

The consolidation of services into a single division at HHSC, rather than scattered at several agencies, is the largest part of the reorganization. This arm will be known as the Medical and Social Services Division and will serve as the center of the hub providing services for behavioral, medical, preventive care, disability, developmental and other services.

As the health and human services system in Texas is reduced from five agencies to three, state officials say the change will eliminate the need for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Aging and Disability Services, to operate as two different agencies. This change is set for 2017.

During this restructuring, selected programs from the Department of State Health Services and the Department of Family and Protective Services, will be moved to HHSC. DSHS will focus on what the Commission is calling “core public health functions.” DFPS will focus on prevention and protective services.

State officials emphasize that no service programs were dropped or eliminated as part of this restructuring.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.

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