New State Medicaid Director: Dr. Julian Harris

Dr. Julian Harris, new Medicaid director

This just in from the Patrick administration:

BOSTON – June 1, 2011 – The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that Dr. Julian Harris has been appointed to serve as Director of the Office of Medicaid, a state program that provides comprehensive health insurance for more than 1 million children, families, seniors and people with disabilities in Massachusetts.

Dr. Harris – who has served in a wide range of organizations – currently practices primary care at the Southern Jamaica Plain Community Health Center and hospitalist medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance, both of which serve populations with high levels of participation in MassHealth and other state health programs. He is a clinical fellow on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and a senior resident in internal medicine and primary care at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its affiliated Southern Jamaica Plain Community Health Center. He formerly served at the World Bank, where he was charged with day-to-day management of the World Bank Institute’s AIDS program. He also worked on national health payment and delivery system reform for an international client at McKinsey & Company.

“Massachusetts is a national leader in expanding access to health care, and we are now at the forefront of cost containment efforts,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “As Medicaid Director, Dr. Harris will play a vital leadership role in our nation-leading efforts provide high-quality, cost-efficient care for our most vulnerable populations.”

The announcement doesn’t specify the fate of the current director, Terry Dougherty. It says only:
“Dr. Harris will assume his new role on July 18. Current Medicaid Director and Assistant Secretary for Administration and Operations Terry Dougherty will remain with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services through August to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”

The Massachusetts Medical Society welcomed the new director:

Massachusetts Medical Society President Lynda Young, M.D. said “Medicaid is an enormously important part of health care in the Commonwealth, providing coverage for more than one million families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Physicians, those on the front lines of medicine, bring a unique perspective to the complex world of health care, caring for the patients and developing critical relationships with them, many that last for a lifetime. The selection of a physician who has knowledge of the art, as well as the science, of medicine can only bring benefits to the Medicaid program.”

Dr. Young said Dr. Harris’s educational background – he has a master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of Business – will also bring benefits as more attention turns to the “business of medicine” in developing information technologies, new models of care, and efforts to contain costs while improving health outcomes at the same time. Dr. Harris has been an active member of the Medical Society’s Task Force on Health Care Reform.

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