Kansas’ top health official is stepping down in January, the Governor’s Office announced Thursday. Susan Mosier, a former state lawmaker, had led the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since late 2014 and previously served as the state’s Medicaid director.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will select Mosier’s successor, according to a statement from the Governor’s Office. Colyer has begun taking the reins on some state matters in anticipation of Gov. Sam Brownback’s departure for a position at the U.S. State Department.
The Governor’s Office statement cited Mosier’s oversight of improved health outcomes and lower costs for Kansans in Medicaid, among other accomplishments.
“Dr. Mosier has dedicated her time tirelessly to serve the people of Kansas over the past six years,” Gov. Sam Brownback said. “Dr. Mosier has worked effectively for Kansas’ most vulnerable citizens.”
Mosier was Medicaid director when the program that provides health insurance to more than 400,000 Kansans was privatized as KanCare. The Brownback administration has touted KanCare as a victory for coordinated care and responsible state finances, but critics including health advocacy groups say paperwork backlogs, weak oversight and other problems have plagued the program and reduced access to health care.
Early this year the Obama administration denied Kansas’ request to extend KanCare another year under a special waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, citing multiple concerns about the program. The Trump administration approved a corrective plan and extension later in the year.
Kansas is now seeking to renew KanCare.
Sean Gatewood, co-administrator of the KanCare Advocates Network, said the timing of the leadership change is problematic.
“Getting a new secretary on the heels of getting a new Medicaid director adds to the confusion and builds our case further for delaying the implementation of KanCare 2.0,” he said, referring to the state’s plans to revamp and extend the program, this time with work requirements and lifetime caps on services for some beneficiaries.
The state’s most recent Medicaid director, Mike Randol, left this fall. Jon Hamdorf is serving as interim director.
In the announcement about her departure, Mosier expressed gratitude for her experiences at the agency.
“It has been my great privilege to serve the people of Kansas,” she said.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ.