Advocacy Alert: Health Care Services Director Jennifer Kent Resigns

September 10, 2019


by Angela Hart, Politico

California Department of Health Care Services Director Jennifer Kent is resigning as head of the state’s largest agency, which provides health care benefits for 13.2 million low-income people, POLITICO has learned.

Kent said in a memo obtained by POLITICO to health care stakeholders that she will leave at the end of September. She has served as director since 2015, when she was appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

DHCS confirmed to POLITICO that Kent is resigning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom retained her as his DHCS director when he assumed office in January. In over four years as director, Kent oversaw the expansion of Medi-Cal under Obamacare and has been responsible for leading the state’s “Whole Person Care” pilot program, which invests in mental health care, drug treatment and homeless services.

Among other highlights she listed in her memo were negotiating two managed care organization taxes with health plans — an extension of which California is preparing to apply for by a Sept. 30 deadline. She also pointed to California being a national model of substance abuse services, including a hub-and-spoke model of treatment and targeted use of federal opioid dollars.

Kent ruffled feathers this year with behavioral and physical health care trade groups and plans, as she has sought a heavy-handed approach to enforcing state and federal health care regulations. This spring, she issued sanctions on 10 county mental health plans for failing to provide enough practitioners to treat patients with serious conditions.

DHCS was also slammed earlier this year in back-to-back audits for failing to provide adequate health care for low-income kids and for failing to enforce state regulatory requirements spelling out limits on how far patients must travel to reach a health care provider.



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