SCDHHS appoints CFO to oversee state Medicaid budget

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COLUMBIA, S.C.— The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) announced today the appointment of Ruth Johnson to serve as the agency’s new chief financial officer (CFO). Reporting to the Director, her responsibilities will include financial management of the state’s $5.5 billion Medicaid program, which serves more than 1 million low-income, elderly and disabled South Carolinians. She begins work July 9 after moving her family to Columbia.

Johnson comes to South Carolina from Louisiana, where she recently retired as Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services for Gov. Bobby Jindal. During her tenure Johnson identified more than $32 million in cost savings to the state and spearheaded a modernization of the Department, which included creating web-based enrollments, migrating to electronic case files and improving its customer service center. The Department was awarded the 2011 State Innovator of the Year Award by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

Johnson’s previous appointments include Undersecretary for Management and Finance at Louisiana’sDepartment of Children and Family Services, and Deputy Undersecretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice where she was also responsible for overall financial management and oversight.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from Louisiana State University.

When Gov. Nikki R. Haley came into office, SCDHHS was a mid-year budget deficit of $224 million in state funds.  A primary goal of the new administration has been to restructure the department’s financial organization and processes to produce realistic and accurate budgets, better manage expenditures and to improve communication with the legislature and stakeholders regarding the agency’s finances.  As of the end of the most recent quarter, SCDHHS is meeting its budget expectations.

“Ruth is a critical addition to the SCDHHS team who will take us to the next level of accountability,” said SCDHHS Director Anthony Keck, who worked with Johnson in Louisiana. “She has a proven track record of adeptly managing large and complex budgets on behalf of the taxpayer while understanding the profound effect these decisions have on the individuals we serve.”

 

Roy Hess, who was serving as Interim Deputy Director of Finance and Administration since last year, also has been named to the new position of Deputy Director of Managed Care. Hess will oversee SCDHHS’ expanding care coordination efforts as well as hospital and nursing home services. Approximately 626,000 Medicaid beneficiaries are now enrolled in one of seven managed care plans. Hess has held executive-level positions at several Florida hospitals and previously led SCDHHS’ Division of Care Management.

“Roy is a terrific leader who steered us through tough financial times as Interim CFO,” Keck said. “By returning to Managed Care he will help lead the agency through our important redesign of our coordinated care system to improve outcomes, control costs and reduce hassle factors for provider.”

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