Over­seer hired for Med­i­caid

Florid­ian tapped to lead DHS unit

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ANDY DAVIS

The chief of a Florida health in­sur­ance ex­change that has sought to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to health­care. gov has been hired to di­rect the agency in charge of Arkansas’ Med­i­caid pro­gram, state of­fi­cials an­nounced Thurs­day.

Rose Mur­ray Naff, 59, will take over Aug. 14 as di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices’ Med­i­cal Ser­vices Divi­sion.

She will earn an an­nual salary of $115,000, depart­ment spokesman Brandi Hin­kle said.

Naff will take over du­ties that have been han­dled on an in­terim ba­sis by Dawn Stehle, the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices’ deputy di­rec­tor for health and Med­i­caid.

Since 2010, Naff has been ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Florida Health Choices, which “was es­tab­lished by Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in the Florida Leg­is­la­ture prior to the Af­ford­able Care Act to de­velop in­no­va­tive in­sur­ance prod­ucts and af­ford­able, qual­ity health care for in­di­vid­u­als and small busi­nesses,” ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease an­nounc­ing her ap­point­ment.

She also spent 18 years as di­rec­tor of Florida Healthy Kids, which pro­vided cov­er­age to 1 mil­lion chil­dren and be­came a model for the na­tional Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, known

in Arkansas as ARKids First.

“We rec­og­nized that our next DMS Di­rec­tor needed a unique re­sume — Med­i­caid, man­aged care and in­sur­ance — to suc­cess­fully over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of our Arkansas Med­i­caid re­forms that no other state is do­ing,” Stehle said in a news re­lease.

“We’re de­lighted Rose is join­ing our Med­i­caid lead­er­ship team at this crit­i­cal time.”

Un­like health­care.gov and other ex­changes es­tab­lished un­der the 2010 fed­eral health care law, Florida Health Choices does not of­fer sub­si­dies to low-in­come con­sumers.

As of June, it was serv­ing about 700 cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Florida Times-Union.

By com­par­i­son, more than 1.7 mil­lion Florid­i­ans were en­rolled in cov­er­age through health­care.gov as Jan. 31, ac­cord­ing to the Menlo Park, Calif.,-based Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

The Times-Union re­ported that the Florida

ex­change’s board was con­sid­er­ing clos­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter Gov. Rick Scott ve­toed $250,000 in an­nual fund­ing that state law­mak­ers had al­lo­cated to keep the ex­change afloat.

Af­ter step­ping down from Florida Healthy Kids in 2007, Naff served as chief per­for­mance of­fi­cer in the Florida Depart­ment of Busi­ness and Reg­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment news re­lease.

In the news re­lease, she said she’s “truly ex­cited to be join­ing the team at DHS and Governor [Asa] Hutchin­son’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“The chal­lenges Arkansas faces in DMS are not new to me,” Naff said. “My ex­pe­ri­ence with sig­nif­i­cant im­ple­men­ta­tions and on­go­ing op­er­a­tions will be a good fit.”

She added that her “mother, grand­fa­ther and great grand­mother were all Arkansans.”

Hin­kle said Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment Di­rec­tor Cindy Gille­spie wasn’t con­cerned about Naff’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the Florida ex­change.

“This is a very dif­fer­ent thing we have here in Arkansas,” Hin­kle said.

Arkansas’ Med­i­caid pro­gram pro­vides cov­er­age to al­most 1 mil­lion low-in­come res­i­dents — about a third of the state’s pop­u­la­tion.

The pro­gram’s bud­get for the fis­cal year that be­gan July 1 is about $7.6 bil­lion, with $5.9 bil­lion com­ing from the fed­eral govern­ment and the rest com­ing from the state.

Naff will “re­design” the Med­i­cal Ser­vices Divi­sion in prepa­ra­tion for sev­eral planned changes, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

Those in­clude mov­ing about 60,000 peo­ple off the ex­panded part of the state’s Med­i­caid pro­gram, known as Arkansas Works; trans­fer­ring re­spon­si­bil­ity to man­aged-care com­pa­nies to pro­vide dental ben­e­fits for Med­i­caid re­cip­i­ents; and hir­ing provider-owned com­pa­nies to pro­vide ser­vices for the de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled and mentally ill.

Stehle, di­rec­tor of the Med­i­cal Ser­vices Divi­sion since 2014, was pro­moted to the deputy di­rec­tor job in Au­gust of last year.

Since then she has con­tin­ued to serve as in­terim Med­i­cal Ser­vices Divi­sion di­rec­tor while also su­per­vis­ing depart­ment di­vi­sions re­spon­si­ble for ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for govern­ment as­sis­tance and for serv­ing the el­derly, de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled and mentally ill.

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