State Medicaid chief stepping down

Jerry Dubberly is leaving his position as Georgia’s Medicaid director, effective Jan. 2.

Jerry Dubberly
Jerry Dubberly

He’s stepping down from what experts consider a vitally important job in Georgia health care.

As Medicaid chief, Dubberly oversees the services for about 1.9 million Georgians in Medicaid and PeachCare, with a state budget of more than $2.5 billion.

Dubberly could not be reached for comment.

The Department of Community Health said in an email statement to GHN that Commissioner Clyde Reese is working on filling the vacancy.

It’s difficult to find someone to do the job well, experts say.

The Medicaid chief must deal with various sectors of health care, including hospitals, physicians and nursing homes, as well as consumers and their advocates and state lawmakers. The directors also must deal with pressure on spending.

Mark Trail, a former Medicaid director for Georgia, told GHN, “Jerry will be very hard to replace.”

“He proved himself both a competent clinician, as well as a thoughtful and deliberate business manager,” said Trail, managing principal at Health Management Associates in Atlanta.

“The job entails both some measure of clinical and policy competence, but also a very strong understanding of costs and cost drivers,’’ Trail said. “All of this is mixed with the political overlay that a Medicaid director has to deal with.”

The state’s Medicaid rolls have increased recently, even though Georgia is not one of the states that have expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act. One reason is that many Georgians who were already eligible were enrolled in Medicaid during the ACA exchange enrollment process.

Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said Monday that Dubberly has been “a very, very good Medicaid director’’ and also has served well as a member of the national organization’s board.

The job as Medicaid director, Salo said, “is to provide the best possible health care to as many people as possible under unrelenting budgetary constraints.”

The average tenure of a state Medicaid director is about two years, Salo added. “It’s a very hard job.” Dubberly has served for six years.

Dubberly, a native of Jesup, is a pharmacist, and previously served in a Medicaid pharmacy benefits management post.