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Gov. Whitmer organizes new agency to improve services for older Michiganders

Michigan has more than 2 million adults over age 60, nearly 25% of the state’s population.
Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to establish the Health and Aging...
Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to establish the Health and Aging Services Administration within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 1:06 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Thursday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to establish the Health and Aging Services Administration within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

The new agency will provide more coordinated services to Michigan’s growing aging population by merging the former MDHHS Aging and Adult Services Agency and Medical Services Administration under one umbrella within MDHHS. Michigan’s Medicaid Office is also part of the new Health and Aging Services Administration.

“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,” said Gov. Whitmer. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s 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.”

The new administration will maintain current staff, provide for greater collaboration and make the delivery of MDHHS programs and services to aging adults simpler and more efficient.

“Long-term care policy will now come from one coordinated area of MDHHS,” said Kate Massey, who has been chosen to be senior deputy director of the new administration and previously served in that same role with the Medical Services Administration. “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.”

Michigan has more than 2 million adults over age 60, nearly 25% of the state’s population. Michiganders 85 and older remain the fastest-growing age group and 37% of Michigan residents are 50 and older.

The change allows for enhanced coordination between aging services teams in local communities and in-house employees who are responsible for developing policies, as well as improved analysis of processes and results, and expanded capacity across programs and services.

Long-term support services have been delivered through various areas of MDHHS, making coordination challenging. The change will address those challenges by:

  • Providing additional capacity to serve the intentions of older adults who prefer to age in place – defined by the CDC as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably.”
  • Increasing speed in the delivery of services.
  • Aligning with long-term care support and services to community-based services through the federal Older Americans Act; the MI Choice Waiver Program that allows eligible aging adults to receive Medicaid-covered services like those provided by nursing homes but can stay in their own home or another residential setting; and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that provides Medicaid and Medicare funding for frail, elderly people who meet the criteria for long-term care.
  • Making the Bureau of Medicaid Long-Term Care Services and Support responsible for programs associated with the Older Michiganians Act overseen by the administrator of the new administration.
  • Transferring the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging and Adult Community Placement program from the former Aging and Adult Services Agency to MDHHS itself.

Coordination under the new administration allows Michigan to more easily:

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the health and well-being of Michigan’s aging population, aligning with MDHHS goals to make Michigan an age-friendly state.
  • Work to advance strategic goals and objectives quickly and efficiently.
  • Leverage federal, state, and private dollars to design interventions and supports that maximize impact.
  • Streamline program requirements and develop complementary policies that ease burdens on providers, community organizations, and other stakeholders.

The executive order can be read in full below.

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