Doug Porter is leaving the state Health Care Authority to take a job in the private sector, and Gov. Chris Gregoire today named MaryAnne Lindeblad to replace him at the helm of the agency with the second-largest budget in state government.
Porter leaves Aug. 17. He said in a letter to staff that a health care consulting firm is in the "final stages" of hiring him.
Lindeblad is an administrator at the Department of Social and Health Services, where she leads the Aging and Disability Services Administration, overseeing aid to the elderly, developmentally disabled and mentally ill, including Western State Hospital, whose top job is also about to be vacant.
The Health Care Authority handles more than $5 billion a year in Medicaid, state employee health benefits and other medical spending, a close second to DSHS in terms of money.
Never miss a local story.
Porter's letter is below, and he says in his tenure the agency boosted enrollment in the state childrens' health insurance program, Apple Health for Kids; made efforts to redesign health care purchasing, target waste and tamp down medical inflation; and started implementing federal health care reform.
Here's Gregoire's news release:
Gov. Gregoire appoints MaryAnne Lindeblad as director of the Washington State Health Care Authority
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced the appointment of MaryAnne Lindeblad as director of the Washington State Health Care Authority. Lindeblad, who is currently the assistant secretary of the Aging and Disability Services Administration at the Department of Social and Health Services, succeeds outgoing director Doug Porter.
“MaryAnne has the unique skill and experience necessary to walk into this role seamlessly, and continue the tremendous success of this agency,” Gregoire said. “She brings an impressive background, including leading one of the largest divisions at DSHS, even larger than the Health Care Authority. Her career has focused on safeguarding the integrity of the health care system and Medicaid, while ensuring that the citizens of Washington state are protected and provided with the best service possible. I welcome MaryAnne to this role, and am confident she will continue to serve Washingtonians well.”
“I’ve spent my career focused on improving our health care systems, and look forward to serving Washingtonians in this new role,” Lindeblad said. “This position no doubt brings new challenges, including the expansion of Medicaid over the next few years. I am committed to bringing the same heart and passion that I’ve always shown, and ensuring Washingtonians continue to have access to the quality and affordable health care they deserve.”
Lindeblad has spent much of her career at DSHS, serving in a variety of leadership positions. Prior to her current role, Lindeblad served as director of the Division of Health Care Services in the former Health and Recovery Services Administration at DSHS. She has also served as director of the Division of Healthcare Services for the Medicaid Purchasing Administration, and as assistant administrator of the Public Employees Benefits Board for the Washington Health Care Authority. Lindeblad also has experience as the director of operations for Unified Physicians of Washington.
As an active member of the healthcare community, Lindeblad currently serves as chair of the Medicaid Managed Care Technical Advisory Group, is a member of the executive committee for the National Academy for State Health Policy, and chairs their Long Term and Chronic Care subcommittee. She currently chairs the board of the Olympia Free Clinic, a position she has held since 2010.
Lindeblad holds a bachelor of science in nursing from Eastern Washington University and a master’s in public health from the University of Washington.
In 2010, Gregoire announced her intent to merge the existing Health Care Authority and Medicaid, putting the director also in charge of the state's other large health care purchasing program, the Public Employees Benefits Board. These transitions helped streamline and standardize state healthcare programs as well as bend the health cost curve, helping restrain annual medical cost inflation to less than four percent by eliminating waste and inefficiencies.
Gregoire said Porter's experience and leadership would be missed.
“Health care has been a priority concern of my administration from the beginning, and many significant improvements – Apple Health for Kids, the move to evidence-based medicine, and the state's leadership in health care reform – would not have been possible without the support of the Medicaid program and Director Doug Porter,” said Gregoire.
“Doug’s stewardship and prioritization of health care initiatives and reform at the helm of the Washington state Health Care Authority for the past decade have improved lives and provided a more healthy future for Washingtonians,” said Gregoire. “I thank him for his commitment and service.”
TO: Health Care Authority Staff
FROM: Doug Porter, director
Today, it is with a poignant mixture of happiness and regret that I am submitting to the Governor my letter of resignation as Director of the Health Care Authority. My last day in the office will be Friday, August I7, after which I will be taking advantage of several weeks of accumulated annual leave.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my ten-year assignment as head of the Washington State Medicaid program and. for the past two years, Director of the Health Care Authority. It is truly one of the very best jobs in state government. As I look back over all the positions I've held in both public and private sectors, I can honestly say that have never worked with a more talented or committed crew of professionals. It is this I will missmost - the sense of teamwork and drive for excellence that you bring to our programs and customers again and again.
I am in the final stages of securing a position with a health care consulting firm with a sterling national reputation, the outcome of which I will share in the very near future. My immediate plans are for Susan and myself to take what's left of our summer to spend time with our first grandchild, Ella, and to travel to parts of the state that, somehow, we have been too busy to see over the past decade.
While it is hard to leave, I am comforted by the knowledge that a program as complex and vital as ours is being entrusted to a group of executives, managers, and line workers who are absolutely capable of carrying out its goals. You have risen to daunting challenges in the past, and know you are already turning your considerable energies to a brighter future offered by national health care reform. I want all of you to take a moment and share credit in the successes of the past decade (now would be a good time to share with stakeholders our recently published agency report). Many of these achievements were possible in large part because we have enjoyed a Governor and a Legislature who were as committed as we were to improving health care and the services we provide to employees, their dependents, retirees, and for our state's most vulnerable populations. The full list would rapidly overtake this announcement, but some major items include the commitment we made to evidence-based medicine; our drive to strategically redesign the state's health care purchasing; our full-court press for enrollment in Apple Health for Kids; taking on the Governor's challenge to restrain annual medical cost inflation to four-percent or less, by eliminating waste and inefficiencies; and the preparations we've made - and are still making - for health care reform. Our claims payment system - ProviderOne, set a new national standard for Medicaid Management Information Systems, and our Program Integrity innovations have inspired flattering imitations in other states.
It has been my extreme pleasure and deep honor to enjoy this ride with you. I wish all of you continued success in the years ahead, and I hope that our paths may cross again soon.
Thank you for your dedication to our mission and your solid support over the years.