Under the Dome

Cummings appointed Medicaid director

Dr. Robin G. Cummings is the state’s new Medicaid director. He replaces Carol Steckel, who resigned in September.

Cummings, a cardiovascular surgeon, started work at the state Department of Health and Human Services last year as the director of the Office of Rural Health and Community Care. He soon moved on to new roles, becoming deputy secretary of health services and acting state health director.

In February, he was assigned to oversee changes in the Division of Medical Assistance, the office that runs Medicaid. At the time, he conceded that he was not a Medicaid expert, but was going in as a manager “to get everyone on the same page and working together.” He was assigned to be a liaison between consultants hired to remake the division and state staff. Department leaders said then that it was doing a national search for a new director.

“It is a natural transition for Dr. Cummings to expand his current role to lead the DMA organization,” DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said in an email to employees.

Sandy Terrell had been acting director since Steckel left. Wos said she will “retain a leadership position with DMA” and help Cummings “enhance our Medicaid operations.”

DMA has suffered high employee turnover and budget overruns.

At the same time, DHHS has proposed substantial changes in the way doctors and hospitals treat Medicaid patients by having the providers form Accountable Care Organizations. The organizations would have the responsibility for caring for patient within budgets. The organizations would share any savings with the state and federal government and would be partly responsible for cost overruns. The legislature will consider the proposed changes in the session that begins next month.