Saturday, December 20, 2014

Medicaid director serving on interim basis named Cabinet secretary

By Andy Marso
KHI News Service

KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Susan Mosier as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday, one month after giving her the job on an interim basis.

Mosier, an ophthalmologist and former Republican legislator, also has been serving as head of the Kansas Medicaid program and KDHE's Division of Health Care Finance.

“Susan has done an excellent job as the interim secretary,” Brownback said in a prepared statement. “Her experience, passion and leadership will serve KDHE and the people of Kansas well. I am grateful for her willingness to take on this important challenge.”

Mosier replaced Brownback's first KDHE secretary, Robert Moser, a family practice doctor who formerly headed the Greeley County Health Services. He left to take a job with the University of Kansas Hospital.

Mosier's permanent appointment must be approved by the Senate, but there is likely to be little dissent. Democrats hold only eight seats in that chamber as the opposition party and Rep. Jim Ward, one of the House Democrats most critical of Brownback, said Friday that Mosier was unobjectionable.

“Susan’s very competent and she will manage the policies of the governor just fine,” Ward said.

In her previous roles, Mosier helped shepherd KDHE through a complicated and controversial switch to managed care Medicaid administered by three private insurance companies that began in 2013.

The governor's ambitious goal for the privatized plan, known as KanCare, is to save the state $1 billion in Medicaid money over five years and improve health outcomes by coordinating care and not cutting benefits, eligibility or provider reimbursements.

“I am honored by the governor’s trust in me,” Mosier said after she was appointed Friday. “I am committed to the KDHE mission of protecting and improving the health and environment of all Kansans.”

Ward has pointed to the amount of money lost by the private managed care companies in KanCare's first two years as a warning that the program is unsustainable and cuts will be coming.

As the governor enters his second term, Ward said Brownback and Mosier will have "very significant issues and a lot of important things to address” when it comes to protecting the quality of life for Kansans with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

“That all sits on her desk and his desk, and it will be interesting to see how they do that,” Ward said.