|Yesterday I began a series of meetings with DHS employees to give a status update on the transition to the Oregon Health Authority. They were great discussions and today I want to share the highlights and address some of the questions that came up.
First of three meetings about Transition with HSB staff
The most important news about this phase is that there is a structure in place to manage the transition led by the DHS Cabinet and the Oregon Health Authority. Under that structure and by the end of the two-year transition period, some things will change and some things will remain the same. Here are highlights of that progress:
- The two agencies will continue to share clients. Services to clients will not be disrupted. The Children, Adults and Families Division and the Seniors and People with Disabilities Division will form the core of the Department of Human Services. The Public Health Division, DMAP, and the Addictions and Mental Health Division will be part of the new Health Authority. They will be joined by the Public Employee Benefits Board, Oregon Education Benefits Board, Oregon Medical Insurance Pool and Oregon Private Health Partnerships.
- The DHS field structure will not change. For example, clients who currently walk in the door needing both food stamps and the Oregon Health Plan will continue to have one-stop service.
- We will continue to break down barriers between divisions and share administrative functions such as our financial and information systems, and human resources. To that end, we have hired the AKT consulting firm to help draft a blueprint of which services should be shared and how that is governed
- This is a new way of doing business. Long time employees at DHS know that change is a constant and over the years the agency has been reshaped to meet the challenges of the time. As we go through this next phase, we will approach things differently and create a new model for agencies to work together. We will be sister agencies with many shared services, a shared mission, and a shared desire to help keep Oregonians healthy, independent and safe.
- Improving health is about more than just health care. It takes the full complement of health and human services that DHS and OHA will provide together to create healthy communities. Our clients don't rely on us just for health care; they also rely on us to help with food and shelter and other interconnected services that contribute to their health. As such, maintaining a strong connection between DHS and the Health Authority is imperative
- Stakeholders, providers and partners are going to be key in our success. I have convened a stakeholders group that will begin meeting next month. Membership includes providers, client advocates, unions, counties, and tribes. This group will provide input into transition of business processes, hold us accountable, and serve as communications conduits to their organizations.
- We will keep moving forward with Transformation and also use the lessons learned. Over the past two years, DHS has made great strides in reducing barriers to improving client care services while working smarter. We've done it by listening to the DHS workers on the front lines who know best how to do their jobs and how to make them better. The Transformation Initiative will continue at DHS and will form the basis of how we create the Oregon Health Authority sister agency.
- The transition process will be transparent and participatory. We will keep people informed and you can track progress through a Web site www.oregon.gov/oha/transition and I will continue to send out frequent communications.
Transitions such as the one we are going through can be very exciting as we seize opportunities to improve DHS services while tackling one of the most pressing issues of our era: how to keep people healthy and improve the quality of our health care system. But I know that change can also be disconcerting, even frightening, especially when we don't have full information about what is happening.
In the coming months I will keep meeting with DHS and OHA employees and will keep sending out information about what is happening in this transition process. We have also created a Web site www.oregon.gov/oha/transition that has more information. You can submit comments through the Web site or send an e-mail to HB2009.firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.