A Healthy Blog

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

Thanks, Secretary Bigby (and Congratulations, Glen)

Thanks, Secretary Bigby (and Congratulations, Glen)

December 13, 2012

Secretary Bigby

Tonight news broke that Governor Patrick's Secretary of Health and Human Service, Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, is leaving the Patrick administration. Dr. Bigby signed up the very first day (here's our post from December, 2006), and we thank her profoundly for her service.

She leaves two historic, transformative legacies, and dozens of major achievements. Legacy one is the successful implementation of chapter 58, which was just underway when she took office. She led the Patrick administration's quick reversal of some of the harshest inherited Romney policies, and worked to make implementation succeed. She made sure that the focus never left Medicaid while attention was lavished on Commonwealth Care and the Connector. The result is an unprecedented coverage rate in Massachusetts - some 98% overall, with over 99% of kids covered. This legacy has national implications, as our success led directly to the ACA, bring coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans.

Her second legacy is leading the charge for comprehensive delivery system reform. Her experience as a primary care doctor for rich and poor led to understand how patient-centered, coordinated care can both lower costs and improve health. She convinced the Governor after many, many meetings that it is possible for Massachusetts to crack the code of health costs. And now after overseeing the painful process that led to the passage of chapter 224, we are on the road to what may again be nationally important progress towards a health care system that rewards value and quality, rather than volume and quantity.

As Secretary, she and her staff were more open to advocate input than any Secretary in memory. She met with us in her first weeks (see our report), and the lines of communication were always open.

Her replacement will reportedly be St. Elizabeth's hospital president John Polanowicz (2011 Globe story). We look forward to working closely with Polanowicz.

Also reported today is the promotion of Health Connector Executive Director Glen Shor to be the Secretary of Administration and Finance. We're pleased that Glen will just slide over a seat at the Connector Board meetings, and will also play a key role in the Health Policy Commission. Glen has been an outstanding leader for the Connector. When he was appointed, we said he was a "gifted and skilled leader;" after watching him lead the Connector for two and a half years, that judgement is confirmed. We know we will continue to work closely together in his new role. Congratulations, Glen.