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Analysis

Medicaid Has a New Acting Director

By Steven Porter  
   January 09, 2019

One item to keep an eye on is how the acting director approaches anything related to Medicaid expansion.

There's a new boss overseeing Medicaid at the federal level.

Chris Traylor, who joined the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last July as deputy administrator for strategic initiatives, was named acting director this week of the Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services.

Traylor retired in 2016 from his post as executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. He previously served more than three years as the state's Medicaid director and accumulated more than 26 years in public-sector work, according to a CMS announcement.

One item to watch is how Traylor approaches anything related to Medicaid expansion, since Texas is among the 14 states that have not adopted expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Traylor takes over for Mary Mayhew, who resigned Friday after less than three months on the job. As Maine's Medicaid director, Mayhew had garnered a reputation as an opponent of Medicaid expansion.

Mayhew left to take a job with Governor-elect Ron DeSantis in Florida, another state without Medicaid expansion. (Newly elected Maine Gov. Janet Mills ordered the state to move forward with Medicaid expansion last week after her predecessor, Paul LePage, had blocked the initiative.)

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement that the agency will miss Mayhew.

"I appreciate her efforts at CMS and I look forward to continuing to work with her as she uses her many talents to help the state of Florida create a healthcare system that serves the needs of its citizens," Verma said.

In the CMS statement, Mayhew said the Trump administration's "vision for state flexibility" is the reason she's excited to return to state-level work.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.

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