Veteran of Medicaid in several states named commissioner in Ky.; health cabinet creates new post to deal with health-care providers

The state Cabinet for Health and Family Serviceshas named Carol H. Steckel commissioner of the Department of Medicaid Services. 

Steckel is a Medicaid and managed-care expert with more than two decades of experience, having spent the past five years as the senior director of Alliance Development for WellCare Health Plans. WellCare is one of Kentucky’s Medicaid managed care organizations.

Doug Hogan, the cabinet’s spokesperson, told CNHI Kentucky that Steckel’s work with WellCare was based in Florida and that she had no involvement in the firm’s work in Kentucky.

Steckel has also served as North Carolina’s Medicaid director, oversaw the implementation of Medicaid managed care in Louisiana, managed operations and policy for Louisiana’s program and was Medicaid commissioner in Alabama.

In Kentucky, Steckel will oversee the program’s $11 billion annual budget, which serves 1.4 million Kentuckians. She also assumes the position in the middle of a controversial overhaul of the program that if approved would require “able-bodied” Kentuckians to work or participate in “community engagement” in order to be on Medicaid.

The plan was vacated by a federal judge just days before it was set to go into effect on July 1 and sent back to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for more review. The judge said HHS had not sufficiently considered the public comments or the state’s estimate that in five years Kentucky’s Medicaid rolls would have 95,000 fewer people with the plan than without it, largely for noncompliance with its requirements.

Steckel will replace Jill Hunter, who has been serving as the acting commissioner since the retirement of Commissioner Steve Miller. Hunter is now senior deputy commissioner. CNHI reports that Steckel will be paid $120,000 and Hunter will be paid $110,000 annually.

“I am excited to announce this leadership team in the Department for Medicaid Services,” Health Secretary Adam Meier said in the news release. “Carol is a nationally known Medicaid leader and will bring additional expertise to the Agency. Jill did an outstanding job serving as commissioner the last several months.”

New post to deal with providers: The cabinet also hired David Gray as director of provider relations, a new position that will focus on interactions with, and policy impacts on, health-care providers.

Hogan said in an e-mail that the position wasn’t created in reaction to a specific issue, but “is a proactive step to ensure efficient and maximum engagement with health-care providers as we continue to partner in innovation.”

Gray is a licensed nursing-home administrator who has been president and CEO of Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown and president of Baptist Health Louisville.

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