Georgia Medicaid official picked for top job

The Department of Community Health has tapped a current official to become the state’s new Medicaid chief.

Linda Wiant has served as pharmacy director for Georgia Medicaid since August 2011.

Linda Wiant
Linda Wiant

Her new appointment is effective March 16. She replaces Jerry Dubberly, who left the position of Georgia Medicaid director in January to take a job in the private sector.

“I believe Linda has the temperament, experience, perspective and approach to be a strong and effective leader of Georgia’s Medicaid program in this critical era of transformation of our nation’s health care system,” said Clyde Reese, commissioner of Community Health. “I am confident in her ability to work under the leadership of Governor [Nathan] Deal and my direction to shepherd the program into the future. I appreciate her willingness to assume this important role.”

As pharmacy director, Wiant has had daily responsibilities including oversight of the pharmacy claims processing system, the Pharmacy Benefit Manager, and a drug rebate program.

As Medicaid chief, Wiant will oversee services for about 1.9 million Georgians in Medicaid and PeachCare (the children’s health insurance program), with a state budget of more than $2.5 billion.

Being the director of a large Medicaid program is a very difficult job, 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 director also must deal with complex and pressing budgetary issues.

The average tenure of a state Medicaid director is about two years, according to the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

Wiant’s previous experience includes positions at Affiliated Computer Systems as director of clinical services in the PBM unit and as pharmacy program manager in its federal services division.

Wiant received her pharmacy degree from Mercer University in 1993 and completed a pharmacy practice residency at University Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla.