What’s In A Name?

Medicaid expansion language isn’t the only thing that was removed from House Bill 1075.

A provision to change the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services was also removed and voted on separately.

The measure, which is designed to be implemented over time to remain budget neutral, passed the House in a 137-65 vote on July 1.

Changes to signage, stationary and other items will be made as new orders for items or replacements would be made anyway.

State Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, was one of 65 House members, all Republican, who voted against the bill.

“As far as the name change,” Rapp said, “it’s really a politically correct step. I could have voted for it, but I’m very alarmed at seeing the progression of people going on welfare.”

Pennsylvania is one of only two remaining state with a human services department with the phrase “welfare” in its title.

“Less than ten percent of what DPW does is what we would call ‘welfare’,” said State Rep. Tom Murt, who sponsored the bill. “Most of what they do is taking care of adults with special needs, seniors that have no one to care for them, orphans, the handicapped, people with various types of disabilities, the homeless. That is the mission of human services. That is not welfare as we know it.”

Items under the purview of the department in the recently passed state budget include child support enforcement, mental health services and domestic violence and rape services amongst a total of 48 distinctly funded line items for a range of services.

The measure will now move to the Senate for approval.