Merging Emerging?

In his latest INforefront blog, Chris Cotterill, proposes decimating the number of State agencies. He suggests several mergers as a starting point, one of which would entail combining the Family and Social Services Administration, Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, and Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services. Bad idea:

Chris, ordinarily I am in favor of the recommendations that you share on the blog. Today we disagree, at least in part. Merging the GCPD and IPAS into FSSA would be a bad move for people with disabilities.


First, their constituencies are different. GCPD and IPAS are tasked (federally) with serving people with disabilities (and, arguably, their families). In contrast, FSSA serves a broader service group, and must carefully contend with taxpayers at large and provider agencies. These latter two groups have interests that may directly conflict with those of the disability community.


This creates logistical issues. IPAS has the power to sue FSSA, but a agencies don’t sue themselves. Is everyone subservient to the FSSA Secretary? Do GCPD Members still have authority to appoint staff?


Finally, who is left to be the watchdog?

Cotterill did respond, acknowledging my concerns and raising a few of his own. Part of his response was inaccurate — GCPD has actually existed in one incarnation or another for decades — while another was astute. Without improved coordination between the three bodies, people with disabilities aren’t being served as fully as possible.

Anyway, the Cotterills are good people who have served the disability community. Chris’ mother began Indiana’s Ms. Wheelchair Indiana Pageant in 2009, is a long-time supporter of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, and Editor of People on Wheels. But if merger is entertained, I hope people with disabilities are included in the discussion.


Out with the Old, In with the New

Approximately two weeks have passed since it was announced that Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Secretary Debra Minott would be leaving. After a year and a half on the job, word has it that Minott and Governor Mike Pence had irreconcilable differences over how — and when — the rollout of HIP 2.0 would occur.

The following week Hoosiers learned that a former secretary, Michael Gargano, will serve in an interim capacity until Dr. John Wernert takes the helm in July. Wernert’s background is impressive, both in terms of education (he is a psychiatrist with a Master’s in health administration) and stature (he is presently President-Elect of the Indiana State Medical Association). It should be interesting to see in what direction he takes the Agency!