Oregon Health Authority Loses Dr. Jim Rickards, Chief Medical Officer

Earlier this month, Lori Coyner stepped down as the state’s Medicaid director.

The Lund Report has learned that yet another high-ranking official has left the Oregon Health Authority.

Dr. Jim Rickards stepped down as chief medical officer in June after joining the agency in December 2015. In that position, he managed a clinical leadership team, the Transformation Center, and the Health Evidence Review Commission, which sets the performance and outcome metric standards for the state’s 16 coordinated care organizations.

Earlier this month, Lori Coyner resigned as the state’s Medicaid director. Her departure came 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 OHA to the Department of Human Services. But insiders say that Coyner was not directly involved with the re-enrollment controversy, and that her departure has been seen as a blow to the agency.

Rickards already has a new position. In July, he became the senior medical director for population health and delivery system collaboration at Moda Health.

“All of us at Moda are delighted to have such a dynamic young thought leader join our team,” said Jonathan Nicholas, spokesman.

And what was it about Rickards that caught Moda’s eye?

“What attracted us to Dr. Rickards was his clear passion for helping people, our friends, our families, our loved ones all across our state, … for helping them get the healthcare they need and deserve,” said Dr. William Johnson, president of Moda Health .

As the state’s chief medical officer, Rickards played a key leadership role in reducing Oregonians' unnecessary exposure to prescription opioids, reducing the cost of prescription drugs and increasing access to treatment for patients with hepatitis C, according to Robb Cowie, communications director for the Oregon Health Authority.

“He was a strong voice for evidence-based, quality and cost-effective care for Oregon Health Plan members,” he told The Lund Report in an email. “We wish him well in his new position. We are conducting a search for his replacement.”

Before joining the OHA, Rickards spent nearly two years as health strategy officer for the Yamhill Community Care Organization and helped align the CCO’s mission and clinical strategies with local providers and community partners, working to improve the health of its members and shift the paradigm from sick care to preventative and well care.

Earlier, in 2014, Rickards was chosen as a clinical innovation fellow by OHA’s Transformation Center. With the money awarded from this fellowship, he launched a tele-dermatology program to bring much-needed dermatology services into Yamhill County using remote technology.

A radiologist, Rickards received his medical degree from Indiana University, then served as chief resident at Cook County Medical Center in Chicago. In 2015, he received his MBA from Oregon Health & Science University.

Diane can be reached at diane@thelundreport.org.

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