Whitmer signed order creating new Health and Aging Services Administration within MDHHS

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order creating the Health and Aging Services Administration (HASA) within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services yesterday, Oct. 14. 

The new structure combines the Aging and Adult Services Agency and Medical Services Administration to focus on integration, coordination, and innovation for the growing elderly population in Michigan, according to a MDHHS statement. Michigan’s Medicaid Office will also be part of HASA. 

 

 

Gov. Whitmer said:

“Older Michiganders deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and by dedicating resources at the state level, we can ensure they have the resources they need to have a secure retirement, access to high-quality healthcare, attainable, affordable housing, and more. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ new Health and Aging Services Administration will stay laser-focused on helping aging adults thrive, coordinate effectively across agencies and departments to enact lasting change, and get things done that make a real difference in people’s lives.” 

HASA will retain all current staff from the two integrated agencies and plans to change the structure of these agencies while keeping the services themselves.

Right now, Michigan has more than 2 million residents over the age of 60, which represents around 25% of the state’s total population. According to MDHHS, Michiganders 85 years and older remain the fastest growing demographic and 37% of all residents are over the age of 50. 

Coordination is key to support this growing age group. MDHHS said coordination between services in the current model has been difficult due to the multiple areas and agencies involved in providing long-term support. The integration will allow MDHHS to build additional capacity for long-term care services while also increasing the speed of the delivery of those services. 

Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS, said:

“These changes to our structure will lead to a better plan for aging Michiganders, and they are founded on suggestions from those we serve. Although not a redesign of services, this change is important because it will improve upon the delivery of those services and ensure alignment with our values. Our customers who benefit from our adult and aging programs will appreciate a stronger connection with our Medicaid services.” 

MDHHS said this improved coordination will allow Michigan to focus on improving and innovating their long-term care comprehensive strategy. They also intend to better streamline program requirements and develop complementary policies to ease the burdens on providers, stakeholders, and community organizations. 

Integrating Michigan’s Medicaid Office will allow for early interventions in care for the elderly and will improve coverage to Medicaid-covered long-term care services, like the MI Choice Waiver Program and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program

Marianne Udow-Phillips, a senior advisors for the University of Michigan’s Center for Health Research and Transformation, said:

“Better aligning aging and Medicaid services is a great move forward for Michigan’s seniors, those living with disabilities, and their families. This new structure will help achieve MDHHS’s long-standing goal of providing a continuum of care and integration of services. Bringing the resources, vision and leadership of these two organizations together will greatly enhance the work we are doing with MDHHS on their vision and strategy for long-term care.” 

Kate Massey, previous senior deputy director of the Medical Services Administration, will become the senior deputy director of HASA. She said:

“Long-term care policy will now come from one coordinated area of MDHHS. We expect these changes to allow smoother transitions across the continuum of care – including for older adults who prefer to age in place. Services to our aging population are a critically important part of MDHHS’s work.”