The director of Missouri’s Medicaid program, Dr. Ian McCaslin, has left.
McCaslin is not saying whether he resigned or was fired, according to the AP, and neither is the state’s department of Social Services, under which the Medicaid program operates. Social Services Director Alan Freemen told employees Tuesday that the department plans to engage in a national search to replace McCaslin.
McCaslin has served as the state's Medicaid director for six years, beginning under Gov. Matt Blunt's administration. Prior to coming to Missouri, he taught at Harvard Medical School and was a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital.
His departure is a loss for the state, according Washington University health economist, Timothy McBride, who also chairs the state’s Medicaid oversight committee.
“Dr. McCaslin is quite simply one of the best public servants I have ever met,” McBride wrote in a letter to the Medicaid oversight committee on Tuesday. “What he has done to build the MOHealthNET program, and manage the Medicaid program through the last six years is simply stunning. I think he is really one of the most under-appreciated heroes in our state.”
McCaslin’s departure also comes during a time when much is changing in health care and in the way public health programs, like Medicaid, are administered. Whether to go along with an optional Medicaid expansion under the federal health law has been a central and heated point of debate amongst Missouri lawmakers this year, with a Democratic governor leading a push to expand the program and a Republican led legislature pushing back.
Rep. Jay Barnes, a Republican from Jefferson City, who sponsored an alternative Medicaid proposal earlier this year, told the Columbia Daily Tribune that McCaslin would be missed, but his absence wouldn’t hinder efforts to improve the state’s Medicaid program.
Jennifer Tidball, who oversees financial and administrative services for the department of social services, will serve as interim director.
This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News.
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