Tom Suehs, who put Medicaid at the center of health care reform as executive commissioner of the Texas Department Health and Human Services, is retiring effective Aug. 31.
Suehs follows Billy Millwee, his director of Medicaid and the state’s health insurance programs for children, who in May announced he, too, would retire at the end of August.
Suehs and Millwee were in the midst of carrying out a broad health care reform bill passed by the Legislature in 2011 projected to save Texas taxpayers about $470 million over two years. The plan includes a savings of $300 million by converting to managed health care programs in the Rio Grande Valley.
As recently as February, Suehs had been warning the Legislature the Medicaid program in Texas was going to need at least $15 billion more in 2013 to remain solvent. Several weeks ago, Millwee acknowledged that the legislative reform bill, even if implemented fully, would do little to stave off the growth of Medicaid costs.
Suehs, 60, had headed the Department of Health and Human Services since 2009 after service as its deputy commissioner since 2003.
He had been a health care consultant, president of the Texas Health Care Association, deputy commissioner for management and finance for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and associate commissioner for budget, planning and management in the former Texas Department of Human Services.
“In his more than 25 years of dedicated service to the people of Texas,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement issued this afternoon, “Tom Suehs has worked tirelessly to improve the health and well being of families across the state.
“During his tenure as Texas Health and Human Services executive commissioner, Tom helped steer the health and human services enterprise through significant and much-needed reforms, ensuring our taxpayer dollars are used effectively and efficiently to help our most vulnerable Texans. On behalf of all Texans, I thank him for his hard work and service to the state, and wish him the best.”
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