Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez announced his impending resignation Monday afternoon in a press release.
The release notes his final day will be Sept. 30.
“As an agency, OHCA cares for the most vulnerable among us: children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” Gomez said in the release. “The work being done here matters, and is worthy of the continued support of the state and our lawmakers. I am proud to have served and led an agency that is saving lives and supporting our citizens and our community.”
The release notes he will be pursuing opportunities in the private sector.
Gomez assumed the CEO’s position from Mike Fogarty, who retired in 2013. He had previously served as the agency’s legislative liaison, and in the past three years he worked closely with legislative leaders and Gov. Mary Fallin’s office to navigate the state’s tight budget situation.
The OHCA manages Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, which faced significant cuts in the spring but ultimately fared decently in the Legislature’s budget.
One State Capitol insider described the news to NonDoc as “devastating.”
Agency hamstrung by decision not to expand Medicaid
The Health Care Authority faces yet another bleak budget outlook, with the state facing a likely shortfall again when the Legislature convenes in 2017.
House Democrats and state health leaders — including the Oklahoma Hospital Association — have argued that Oklahoma should employ some form of Medicaid Expansion to cover more vulnerable Oklahomans, stabilize revenue streams for hospitals and providers and the return of Oklahoma tax dollars from Washington D.C. in the form of economic development here.
So far, those calls have gone unanswered, and Fallin, legislative leaders and conservative advocacy groups have remained staunch in their opposition to Medicaid Expansion.
Gomez unveiled a proposal called Medicaid “rebalancing,” which would have accomplished some of those goals, but it failed to gain enough traction with Legislative leaders last session.
He also dealt with an awkward situation regarding the state’s contracts with Planned Parenthood providers.
“I am incredibly grateful for the people at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the support they have given me throughout my career,” Gomez said in the release. “I love the employees and this board. They are living examples of people loving and serving their neighbors unconditionally.”
Q&A: Mike Fogarty predicts Oklahoma will expand health coverage by next year