Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs will call it a career this August.
Suehs’ announcement follows news last month that Billy Millwee, the state’s Medicaid director, was retiring, leaving an even bigger void than anticipated at the top of an agency facing billions of dollars in unpaid Medicaid costs and struggling to institute a federal waiver that calls for complex hospital payment reform.
It’s been a rough several months for Suehs and other HHSC officials. They’ve got doctors outraged over Medicaid and Medicare cuts on one side. On the other, public and private hospitals are duking it out over who wins and who loses from a complicated new formula to determine how much they’re reimbursed for uncompensated care. Meanwhile, counties and hospital districts are facing their own mini turf wars, as they work to form the regional partnerships required by the waiver.
The high-profile health care resignations compound an already big leadership void; Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott is leaving next month. Combined, public and higher education and health and human services make up nearly 85 percent of the state’s general revenue budget.
Suehs was a pretty decent Commissioner, his recent crackup over Planned Parenthood notwithstanding. Lord knows, he was better than Albert Hawkins, though all he really had to do for that was not implement a doomed-to-fail privatization scheme in a manner to ensure the failure was as spectacular as possible. Still, as I said he did a decent job overall, and I wish him the best in retirement. I hope Rick Perry picks someone nearly as competent as a replacement.