Medicaid and CHIP Services Director to Leave CMS

CMS has announced that Cindy Mann, J.D., Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) within CMS since June 2009 will be leaving her position in late January 2015. As CMS’ Deputy Administrator and Director of CMCS, Mann was responsible for the development and implementation of national policies governing Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and worked closely with states as they designed and administered their Medicaid and CHIP programs.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Medicaid expansion contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) was optional in June 2012, Mann has been largely responsible for encouraging states to extend Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents and for negotiating tough terms for those state programs.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner sent an email to agency staff on December 19 describing Mann as “an open and trustworthy partner to state leaders” and a “passionate advocate for beneficiaries.” According to the WSJ, while some states have attempted to obtain concessions from the Medicaid expansion requirements, Mann has “been seen as a formidable defender and expert of the traditional Medicaid program during those battles and states won few significant concessions.”

Modern Healthcare reports that Mann’s departure surprised healthcare stakeholders who expected her to stay through the end of the Obama Administration. Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, is quoted in Modern Healthcare as saying, “It’s a tremendous loss for the Medicaid program. Cindy Mann has been an incredible public servant who has worked tirelessly and is brilliant, passionate and committed to making government work for vulnerable people.”

Tavenner’s email to CMS staff states that Mann’s deputy, Vikki Wachino, will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is appointed.