The director of Arkansas’ Medicaid program, Gene Gessow, has resigned according to a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Beebe. Gessow is leaving for family reasons, says Matt Decample in the Governor’s office.
Arkansas has been exploring major changes to its Medicaid program at the direction of Beebe, who has warned that the state faces a major financial crisis with the program as early as July 2012 if reforms are not enacted.
At the center of Beebe’s controversial proposal is an effort to create medical care groups for certain divisions of health care that would allow for bundled payments versus the current "fee-for-services" method of payment that has threatened Medicaid’s finances. Yesterday, the first working group of stakeholders met to hammer out potential direction on Medicaid reform.
Decample said that the Governor understood Gessow’s personal reasons for leaving, but his departure won’t threaten Beebe’s efforts to push forward with Medicaid reform.
"It’s not going to slow us down. There’s still a team in place over there (at the Department of Human Services)," Decample said.
The search for a replacement will be conducted by DHS director John Selig in consultation with the Governor, Decample added.
Amy Webb, spokesperson for DHS, emphasized that Gessow was not asked to resign, but that his personal situation dictated a need for his departure. Webb said that Marilyn Strickland, chief operating officer with the Medicaid division, would serve as interim Medicaid director while a search is conducted.
"He (Gessow) was a visionary," Webb said. "We’ll be looking for someone of that caliber."