Dr. Robin Cummings will lead the effort to improve Medicaid operations in the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Cummings, who is already the deputy secretary of health services and acting state health director, will not be the permanent Medicaid director. The department continues to look for a permanent replacement for former director Carol Steckel.
But Cummings will manage the Medicaid division, and acting Medicaid director Sandy Terrell will report to him, said department spokeswoman Julie Henry.
There’s been a leadership vacuum in the department for some time, Henry said, and Cummings’ appointment is meant to address it.
He will be the point man interacting with the two contractors the state hired to work in Medicaid. The state awarded a $3.25 million, no-bid contract to Alvarez & Marcel to help manage the $13 billion Medicaid program. The department says it does not have enough staff to handle the job.
Cummings, a former cardiovascular surgeon, said he is not a Medicaid expert but sees himself as going into the division “as more of a manager, as someone to go in and try to pull the expertise and talent that is within Medicaid, combine it with the skills that we’re bringing to bear with the organizational experts we’re bringing on board, and try to get everyone on the same page and working together.”
Navigant Healthcare received a no-bid state contract worth nearly $500,000 to assess the Medicaid program integrity and audit section.
The Medicaid division was highlighted in a DHHS presentation on staffing at a legislative committee meeting Tuesday. Nearly 20 percent of jobs in the division are vacant, 81 of 413, said Mark Gogal, the agency’s human resources director.
An agency “redesign” indicates a need for fewer program specialists and more financial, budget and contract managers, Gogal said.
DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos announced Cummings’ appointment at the same meeting but would not answer specific questions about the decision during the committee break, other than to say Cummings is successful in all he does.
And he will have plenty to do.
As deputy secretary of health services, he oversees the public health, Medicaid, state hospitals and the mental health divisions, and the office of rural health. He will continue to hold his position as acting state health director.
The added Medicaid responsibility will not lead to a salary increase. He will continue to make his current salary of $220,000.
Cummings said the divisions he oversees have good directors, freeing up time to take on the new role in the Medicaid office.
Bonner: 919-829-4821; Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner