Indiana social services chief Minott leaving

INDIANAPOLIS - Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Debra Minott announced Monday she is leaving her job in the coming month.

Minott said in a statement Monday evening that she will be "transitioning" from her job leading the state's main social services and welfare agency.

"I have appreciated the opportunity to serve FSSA and the taxpayers of Indiana for the past 17 months. We have all worked together to re-establish FSSA as an integrated, collaborative agency.  I will be transitioning out of my role as Secretary over the next month or so and look forward to working with the Governor's office to ensure an orderly transition to new leadership," Minott said in an emailed statement.

She did not explain her reason for leaving in the statement.

"Governor Pence holds Secretary Minott in the highest regard and believes she has served the people of Indiana with integrity and professionalism," Pence communications director Christy Denault said in a statement Monday.

Minott's departure comes as Gov. Mike Pence and his health care team are in the middle of pitching the federal government on expanding low-income insurance using a state-run alternative to Medicaid. Minott had been one of a handful of top officials leading local meetings on the proposal in the past few weeks.

At least one state lawmaker was concerned about the timing of Minott’s departure. Her resignation comes two weeks before the critical deadline to advance the program for the state’s uninsured.

"This transition, whatever it's going to be, is coming at a very awkward time. I think it's important we hear from the Governor what's happened, why," Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, said.

Pence did not elaborate on the circumstances other than to make a brief statement.

"As we move into a number of challenges, more of an implementation phase on a number of policies, we just came to the conclusion that a change in direction would be helpful and supportive," Pence said.

The governor is asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approve an expansion of Medicaid using a modified version of the state's Healthy Indiana Plan instead of traditional Medicaid. The plan would rely largely on federal funding but include requirements he says will promote personal responsibility among the state's low-income population.

The governor is submitting his plan for consideration at the end of the month.

Pence said he is confident the state can move forward with the waiver request to the federal government without disruption.

Another republican leader agreed.

"It's not about the person -- whoever's at the helm of FSSA. It's about the program. So I don't think that impacts it in any way," House Speaker Brian Bosma said.

Riecken said her concerns reach beyond the Healthy Indiana Plan. She pointed out the other programs that FSSA administers, including the pre-K pilot.

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