Remarks by Secretary Polanowicz to 38th Annual Providers’ Council Convention & Expo: Champions for Change
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting not only me to speak with you all today, but many of my Assistant Secretaries and Commissioners. I am confident that throughout the panels today, you will hear from my colleagues about many important programmatic and policy successes and challenges of the past and future. I want to take some time today to share some of the ways the Patrick Administration has transformed some of our processes that are needed to provide more effective programs and empower integrated policies.
Between the demand for resources, lack of funding, physical and technological infrastructure building, and increasing social dialogue on every decision – the Administration has understood that to take these challenges head-on, we must change the way we do business to provide more effective services and supports.
It is a true balancing act to not just provide services and supports, but to create and enhance programs that utilize taxpayer money as efficiently and effectively as possible – which is just good governing. As I have told my team, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to pay us more to do the same thing; we have to innovate. And we have to do that in collaboration with our providers.
The Patrick Administration is committed to ensuring that children, youth, families, elders and people with disabilities in Massachusetts have access to the services and supports they need to live safely, productively and with dignity and independence in their communities.
How can we in the secretariat support this? We can empower and support those services by expanding, strengthening, and integrating systems to more effectively provide the care the fits the needs of the whole person – not just their temporary unemployment or their cognitive disorder, or substance issue, or their child care challenges – but the whole person.
That’s why the Patrick Administration has consciously disrupted the silos in government to build transformative partnerships, creating or continuing interagency councils that provide a platform for key Administration officials, Cabinet Secretaries, agencies, legislators and community organizations, including some of you hear today, to tackle some of the Commonwealth’s most challenging social issues.
There are over 100 interagency councils in Health and Human Services alone working to address complicated challenges ranging from youth violence, homelessness in general but also for veterans, LGBTQ and victims of domestic and sexual violence, jail diversion for substance abuse and prevention, behavioral health integration and autism research, just to name a few.
We continue to find innovative cost-effective ways to enhance the quality of care being provided, while promoting self-sufficiency, dignity and independent living in the community.
It is clear from today’s Conference that attendees have the dedication to tackle the hard work to collaboratively implement programs that advance integrated care. But, we have a responsibility to continue to make advancements and leave not just programs, but processes, in place that empower success for future generations.
We know that there is still more work to be done. We can do better and we must; the governor has been very clear, there is work to do and he wants it done.
Some of that work includes issuing Joint Procurements where possible, limiting the number of time-consuming proposals you need to respond to. At the same time, we have implemented contracting reforms which reduce the amount of documents required each year, and allow staff to focus on providing services rather than shifting through paperwork.
We have collaborated with many of you to comprehensively define umbrella services under Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS) at the Department of Mental Health.
Government must always make tough choices about investments – and not making those investments is also a choice.
Over the last seven years, the Governor has made the choice to invest; to make those critical strategic decisions about targeting investments that stimulate growth and provide more and better support services for our Commonwealth; the kind that support needed service transformations that empower integrated care that we all strive for.
We make these investments because the Administration, as all of you do, understands and chooses growth. We must support our most vulnerable populations and leave our Commonwealth stronger for the long-term; to provide more opportunities for the next generation that ours.
All of these initiatives are important and I thank you all again for your advocacy efforts, commitment to strengthening our programs, and collaboration around each of these policies that help us improve our services and supports to our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable.