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Career Story: Director Of A State Medicaid Agency

Director Of A State Medicaid Agency

Job Title: Director Of Government Agency

Type of Company: I work for the state medicaid agency.

Education: BA, DePauw University; •• JD, Northeastern University ••

Previous Experience: Worked as political organizer at non-profit in DC. Worked as law clerk for appeals court judge. Worked as counsel for state legislative committee. Worked as chief of staff of state medicaid agency.

Job Tasks: I am the state Medicaid Director. My job is to provide executive leadership to the state medicaid agency, which is a state-run health insurance program for 1.6 million residents of Massachusetts. We enroll eligible individuals and pay health care providers for their covered health care services.

The job involves decisions about health care policy (what kind of quality measures should be publicly reported?) payment policy (what rates are appropriate for hospitals, or primary care providers, or nursing homes) and operations (what Information Technology support is necessary for improving decisions we make about coverage policies?).

The job also involves significant interaction with state government agencies, and state legislative committees.

Finally, the job involves collaboration and negotiation with many types of health care providers, to whom the agency pays over 9 billion dollars a year.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: My job is exciting because is changes daily, notably with changes in the economic climate that affect state budget decisions. That is good and bad, of course. My job is also to administer a very complicated program, and so there is always something new to learn about, whether it concerns the details of how we are going to create a new web-based assessment tool for providers, or the overall policy picture of financing long-term care services for elders.

Job Tips:
1. Become proficient in the use of data in making decisions and in the presentation of data in providing information. This is not statistical analysis, but comfort with data and presentation are crucial. Anecdotal information and instinct are not good ways to make major decisions or to interact with managers.

2. Prioritize jobs that build skills. It's important to identify jobs where you can be a team player -- jobs with general job descriptions in environments where everyone pitches in are most likely to lead to steps in a career ladder.

3. Communication skills are critical to almost any career.

4. IT (Information Technology) rules major businesses and whether you are a technical person or not you need to be comfortable with understanding how major IT systems are behind companies or enterprises.

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