President Donald Trump has chosen former Maine health commissioner Mary Mayhew to be the next director of Medicaid, where she will oversee the federal healthcare program she fiercely opposed expanding in her own state.
> Seema Verma, head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a prepared statement Monday that Mayhew has been named deputy administrator of the centers, and director of Medicaid. She also will oversee the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which is offered to some families that have children and make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The two programs cost more than $350 billion annually, or about 10 percent of the entire federal budget.
> Mayhew is best known for her seven years as commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services under Gov. Paul LePage. During her tenure, she oversaw major changes to nearly all of Maine’s public assistance programs, including food stamps and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Mayhew also played a major role in eliminating nearly 70,000 people from the state’s Medicaid program and, like LePage, she was an ardent opponent of expanding Medicaid, which was made allowable at the state level under the Affordable Care Act.
LePage credits Mayhew with restoring fiscal responsibility to DHHS during her tenure:
> “She spearheaded the many important welfare reforms developed under my administration, and she was the lightning rod for constant criticism from the media, liberal legislators and the special interests who wanted to protect and grow Maine’s entitlement programs,” the governor said at the time.
But the former Democratic chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, Rep. Drew Gattine, believes Maine will be repairing damage done by Mayhew many years into the future.
> “What we’ve seen over the last eight years is a gutting of a lot of services that has resulted in a lack of attention and focus on core things like protecting children, seniors and adults with developmental disabilities,” he said.
> Gattine often clashed with Mayhew on policy and he isn’t surprised that the Trump administration hired her.
> “I think she is someone who was antagonistic toward Medicaid, so she fits into a long line of Trump appointees who are antagonistic about the programs they are asked to oversee,” he said.