By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, Governor Bentley’s office announced the resignation of Medicaid Commissioner Dr. R. Bob Mullins, Jr.
In his statement Governor Bentley praised his boyhood friend for his service as Medicaid Commissioner
“Under the leadership of Dr. Mullins, the Alabama Medicaid Agency has made significant progress in areas such as electronic health records that reduce unnecessary paperwork and costs for patients. Dr. Mullins was also instrumental in the development of patient care networks and the community-based PACE program for the elderly and disabled, and we thank Dr. Mullins for his service as Commissioner,” Governor Bentley said.
“Moving forward, we will build on the progress that has been made. We will review the financial structure of Medicaid and its programs so we can ensure the long-term vitality of the agency for the patients who depend on it.”
Medicaid’s sprawling services, mammoth budget and entrenched bureaucracy is not an easy job for anyone and all involved in Mullins’ tenure have not envied him the burden under which he has labored.
Those within the government who wished not to be identified said that Mullins received little cooperation at the department and was ill served by many he should have been able to rely on for help.
According to those with intimate knowledge of the departments inter working say that the State’s Medicaid program it is in dire need of a bottom up restructuring.
On Monday Governor Bentley also announced that State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson has agreed to lead a task force to ensure a smooth transition in leadership at the Alabama Medicaid Agency.
Source with knowledge of the process said Bentley office had ask Attorney General Luther Strange if Williamson could oversee both Health and Medicaid. The opinion from the AG’s office was that this would not be legal.
Williamson is known as a take charge individual who will bring skill, talent and tenacity to the process ahead.
The Governor also announced Bill Higdon will serve as the Interim Chief Financial Officer for the Alabama Medicaid Agency. Higdon is retired from the finance department at UAB Hospital in Birmingham and brings a wealth of experience that can complement Dr. Williamson’s efforts.