Six Medicaid Directors Selected for Medicaid Leadership Institute

Initiative enhances the leadership capacity of Medicaid directors to deliver high-quality, cost-effective health care services.

    • June 16, 2010

The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) today announced that six Medicaid directors have been chosen to participate as Fellows in the 2011 class of the Medicaid Leadership Institute. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supports this initiative to enhance the leadership capacity of Medicaid directors so their programs can serve as national models for high-quality, cost-effective care.

By 2014 Medicaid will become the largest health care purchaser in the nation, with the addition of 16-20 million new beneficiaries. As the leaders of the program responsible for covering more than one quarter of the nation’s population, Medicaid directors will have tremendous opportunities to leverage their purchasing power to influence improvements in health care quality, delivery and value.

'Medicaid plays a huge, often underappreciated role in the U.S. health care system. At a time when national health care reform implementation will greatly affect their programs and responsibilities, these six remarkable leaders form an exceptionally talented class for the Medicaid Leadership Institute," said Tommy Thompson, Former Governor of Wisconsin, who chairs the program’s national advisory committee. "These directors are well positioned to blaze a trail for their states and the nation in achieving better quality care for every taxpayer dollar invested in publicly financed health care.”

Medicaid directors competitively selected to participate in the unique executive leadership development program are:

  • Thomas Betlach, Arizona
  • Theresa Eagleson, Illinois
  • Donna Frescatore, New York
  • Darin Gordon, Tennessee
  • Judy Mohr Peterson, Oregon
  • Michael Nardone, Pennsylvania

"Each of these six Medicaid directors is essentially the CEO of one of the largest health insurers in his or her state. We are excited to work with these executives who are passionate about maximizing the value of their programs for millions of beneficiaries,” said Ms. Bella. "They will bring a diverse array of experiences to the Institute and will collectively spur each other to take full advantage of the opportunities for leadership presented by health care reform.”

The Institute is designed to enhance the strategic thinking, substantive knowledge, individual leadership, and technical skills that directors need to effectively lead and foster innovation in their state Medicaid programs. The program is managed by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and directed by Melanie Bella, senior vice president at CHCS and former Indiana Medicaid director.

The curriculum is designed to be dynamic and relevant to the participants’ interests as well as the current environment at both the federal and state levels. It will focus on broad macroeconomic and political issues, data and analytical topics, and leadership and organizational development.

"State Medicaid programs are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to increasing health insurance coverage in this country. The directors of these programs play a vital role in turning policy into practice,” said John Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the health care group at RWJF. "We are proud to support the professional development of these dedicated leaders whose work will be increasingly in the spotlight as Medicaid takes on an expanded responsibility for insuring Americans.”

The 2011 Class of Medicaid Leadership Institute is the second group of Medicaid leaders to participate in this prestigious executive training program. For more information about the Medicaid Leadership Institute and the inaugural class of Medicaid Fellows, visit www.medicalleaders.org.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.

About the Center for Health Care Strategies
The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is a nonprofit health policy resource center dedicated to improving health care quality for low-income children and adults, people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, frail elders, and racially and ethnically diverse populations experiencing disparities in care. CHCS works with state and federal agencies, health plans, providers, and consumer groups to develop innovative programs that better serve people with complex and high-cost health care needs. Its program priorities are: improving quality and reducing racial and ethnic disparities; integrating care for people with complex and special needs; and building Medicaid leadership and capacity.