Lori Coyner Out as Oregon Medicaid Director

Coyner left voluntarily, the Oregon Health Authority says. Her departure after a year and a half in the job follows heavy criticism of the state’s Medicaid re-enrollment process.

A year and a half after being named Oregon’s state Medicaid director, Lori Coyner has left state government—leaving David Simnitt, who has been the Oregon Health Authority’s health policy director, to fill the role on an interim basis until a new Medicaid director is hired.

Coyner's departure comes at the end of a Legislative session in which the Medicaid re-enrollment process came under heavy criticism, with state leaders shifting responsibility away from the Oregon Health Authority to the Department of Human Services.

“Lori voluntarily left her position as state Medicaid director, after a successful tenure in which she played a pivotal role in securing federal renewal of Oregon’s Medicaid waiver, oversaw the resetting of actuarially sound and federally approved CCO rates, and helped address OHP’s budget shortfall for the coming biennium,” Oregon Health Authority spokesman Robb Cowie said in an email. “She plans to travel and take on new challenges in health care. We’ll miss her and we wish her the best.”

As The Lund Report has reported, some 147,000 Medicaid members were caught outside coordinated care organizations, with little access to care, potentially costing the state and CCOs millions of dollars in federal funding due to the health authority’s byzantine re-enrollment process. The state estimated that only 15 percent of the Oregon Health Plan applications sent out each month were being processed on time without a suspension of coverage, though officials say that the situation is improving.

 Coyner joined the Oregon Health Authority in early 2013 as director of accountability and quality and was promoted in 2014 to director of health analytics. She led the development of the CCO Incentive Metrics, the Hospital Transformation Performance Program, as well as the development of quality health system transformation dashboards. Coyner also led the CCO rate development methodology. She was named Medicaid director in late 2015.

Filling her shoes until the state hires a permanent replacement, Simnit joined the Oregon Health Authority in 2014 as deputy Medicaid director, before becoming health policy director the following year.

Before coming to Oregon, Simnit spent 15 years at the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, including 10 years with Idaho Medicaid. He has experience administering developmental disability clinical assessments, conducting provider quality assurance reviews, developing rules and regulations, implementing statewide behavioral health managed care, leading a five-year pediatric quality improvement collaboration between Idaho and Utah, and serving as co-chair of the Governor's multi-payer Patient-Centered Medical Home Collaborative working to transform Idaho's primary care delivery system.

Reach Courtney Sherwood at sherwood@thelundreport.org.

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