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Leader of SC Medicaid agency to step down in January

December 15, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The director of the agency that runs South Carolina’s Medicaid program announced Tuesday that he is leaving the department next month.

Department of Health and Human Services Director Joshua Baker told the governor in a letter he is stepping down Jan. 11.

Baker touted improvements in how Medicaid determines who is eligible and how they can enroll in the program and in the computer programs the agency uses to run the government health insurance that provides coverage for about 1.3 million South Carolinians.

Baker said it was the right time to leave with COVID-19 vaccines being delivered and a new Legislature starting its term next month. He also said he left the program that accounts for about $1.5 billion of the state’s $9 billion budget in good shape.

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“Managing the Medicaid program through the COVID-19 public health emergency has been an experience like no other in my lifetime,” Baker wrote in the letter to Gov. Henry McMaster.

McMaster didn’t immediately name an interim or possible permanent successor, saying in a statement he will consult healthcare leaders and lawmakers. The Senate will have to approve the agency’s next director.

Baker spent three years leading the Department of Health and Human Services. He came to the agency after serving as deputy chief of staff for budget and policy under former Gov Nikki Haley.