Dr. Robin Gary Cummings was named the new state Medicaid director today.
Dr. Cummings, a former cardiovascular surgeon, had been serving as the Acting State Health Director. He ceased pursuing surgery in 2004.
Interestingly, if you go the NC American Indian Health Board (found here), according to the website, Dr. Cummings is currently serving as the Medical Director for Community Care of the Sandhills. Obviously, Community Care of the Sandhills (CCS) is one of 14 non-profit organizations participating in the Community Care of NC (CCNC). CCS is covers Medicaid for Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, and Scotland counties.
However, when you go to CCS’ website, and click on “staff,” then, using the drop-down box, click on “leadership,” the Medical Director is Dr. William Stewart. So, obviously, Dr. Cummings has served in the past as the Medical Director for CCS.
After a bit more research, it appears that Dr. Cummings left CCS this past July 2013, when Sec. Wos appointed Dr. Cummings as the Acting State Health Director in lieu of Dr. Laura Gerald’s resignation. If you remember, Dr. Gerald’s resignation was unexpected and Sec. Wos gave no reason for Dr. Gerald’s resignation. Sec. Wos announced that Dr. Cummings would be taking Dr. Gerald’s place the very same day that Sec. Wos announced the resignation of Dr. Gerald.
So my question is this:
Why was Dr. Gerald replaced immediately by Dr. Cummings as the Acting State Health Director, while Carol Steckel resigned back in September 2013 and is being replaced by Dr. Cummings 4 1/2 months after Steckel’s resignation?
We haven’t had a State Medicaid Director (officially) for 4 1/2 months. Sandy Terrell stepped up as the temporary Medicaid Director. And we know Sec. Wos and team has been actively searching for new Medicaid Director.
In fact, the February 11, 2014, agenda (today) for the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services shows as its 11th topic, “Ideas to Address Staffing Concerns and Update on Medicaid Director Search.” Which tells me that there was little to no forewarning as to the appointment of Dr. Cummings.
It would be one thing if, after 4 1/2 months, Sec. Wos announced that the new State Medicaid Director was ____, someone from outside NC with excellent experience. She didn’t want to announce that _____ was coming to NC prematurely because it was confidential and ____ did not want the public to know prior to a final decision.
He has been working in NC Medicaid since 2004. He has served as the Acting State Health Director. Obviously, he was not hard to find. Obviously, Sec. Wos had contact with Dr. Cummings way back in September 2013. So why not appoint Dr. Cummings as the State Medicaid Director back in September 2013? Why wait 4 1/2 months? And announce his appointment the same day as the February 11, 2014, Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services meeting? It just seems odd…
Maybe he refused the appointment back in September 2013. Maybe it took Sec. Wos 4 1/2 months to convince him to take the challenge. Because, come on, folks, Dr. Cummings has just elected to place himself in one of the hottest public seats in the state…and I mean scorching! Remember my blog: “Wanted: North Carolina Medical Director: Transparent and Open!”
Regardless the reason for the delay, it is encouraging that we have a new State Medicaid Director. I am sure Dr. Cummings is fully aware of the current disarray of the NC Medicaid system. So, even knowing the turmoil of our current Medicaid system and how daunting his task will be, Dr. Cummings still chose to accept the appointment to the State Medicaid Director position. And, for that, I say “Bravo!” And “Good luck!” And “We really hope you are successful!”
But, gracious, that seat will be hot!