A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Ron Preston Moving On

Ron Preston Moving On

May 5, 2005

Word spread quickly today that MA Health & Human Services Secretary Ron Preston will be stepping down sometime this summer. I wasn't going to mention it here until I got a call from a Boston Globe reporter for a quote. So witness the first HCFA Blog news scoop -- and let's take a moment for some reflection.

First, Ron had his share of critics, and HCFA had our share of beefs with him. Here's my large assessment. Ron facilitated the most significant reorganization of EOHHS in its 34 year history, transforming the Secretary from a powerless figurehead to the immensively powerful manager of half of state government. The reorg has good and not so good points, yet give Ron credit for pulling off an amazing achievement, and leaving a transformed H&HS landscape behind. Second, he surrounded himself with a cast of first rate commissioners and managers who do great work with insufficient resources -- not their fault. Third, he put health reform on Gov. Romney's agenda and kept it there -- not the way we (or he!) would have preferred; still the Governor's active engagement is a key reason something big may happen in the next 18 months. So Ron, here's a tip of the hat for your energetic leadership, your passion, and your dedication to doing the right thing.

Now, the future! Omigosh! The State has an urgent need to develop a new plan to use $1.3 billion in federal dollars to create a new "Safety Net Care" program for the uninsured. Ron has been the point person in this effort -- we've yet to see a bill that will require extensive legislative and federal review, with an implementation deadline of July 1, 2006. The new level of uncertainty concerning the Secretary's position puts a lot on the line and a lot in jeopardy. We hope the Governor finds someone exceptional to fill Ron's shoes.