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AUSTIN – At the direction of the Texas Legislature, the state’s health agencies have begun a massive restructuring to make the system more efficient, effective and responsive for all Texans.
On Sept. 1, about 4,000 employees and more than 120 programs and functions will officially “move” to the Health and Human Services Commission from four other health and human state agencies.
The move marks the first of two waves of the state’s significant health agency transformation designed to help Texans find and receive services more efficiently.
This first phase moves many client services and administrative functions to HHSC, which administers Medicaid, CHIP and other services. The second wave, set for Sept. 1, 2017, moves certain regulatory programs, state hospitals and state supported living centers to HHSC from 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.”
The most visible aspect on Sept. 1 will be the launch of a revamped website for Texas Health and Human Services. A major section of the site will be dedicated to services, with subgroups by service types, such as services related to aging, disabilities, women and children, food and fitness, child protection and others. The site will have a cleaner look and more intuitive navigation to help people find health and human services information.
One of the more significant structural changes starting Sept. 1 is the consolidation of client services into a single division at HHSC, rather than have them exist at several agencies. This Medical and Social Services Division will create a central structure, connecting behavioral, medical, preventive care, disability, developmental and other services into one area to better meet the needs of the whole person.
The changes are part of the system’s consolidation from five agencies to three. The transformation will eliminate the need for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Aging and Disability Services to operate as separate agencies by 2017. The transformation also includes moving selected programs from the Department of State Health Services and the Department of Family and Protective Services to HHSC. DSHS will focus its efforts on core public health functions, and DFPS will focus on prevention and protective services.
An analysis of the system and the passage of legislation last year outlined the directive to transform the Health and Human Services system into a more efficient system to better provide services and benefits to Texans. No programs were eliminated as a result of the system overhaul.