New Louisiana Medicaid Director Begins Job in Virus Outbreak

Titled Red Book Medicaid Along With Medical Equipment, Conceptual Image

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana has a new state Medicaid director, who started the job Monday in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic.

The state health department announced the hiring of Ruth Johnson, who has worked in state government agencies across Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas over the last three decades.

“Her extensive background in operations, demonstrated fiscal responsibility and governmental relations will be an asset to Louisiana Medicaid,” Cindy Rives, the health department’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

More than 1.5 million Louisiana residents are on Medicaid, about one-third of the state’s population.

Johnson worked as the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services from 2010-12 during former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. She also was deputy director of finance and administration for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services; chief information officer for the Louisiana Division of Administration; and deputy commissioner for the Louisiana Division of Administration. Most recently, Johnson was the chief operating officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Jen Steele, who previously worked as Louisiana’s Medicaid director, left the department earlier this year.

Louisiana also will soon have a new health secretary. Gov. John Bel Edwards hired Courtney Phillips, leader of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Phillips is supposed to start her new job in Louisiana later this month.

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