Former Maine health commissioner Mary Mayhew, also an ex-aide of Gov. Paul LePage, has been tapped by the Trump administration to head Medicaid, according to reports from Politico, the Portland Press Herald and others.
Seema Verma, administrator of CMS, announced Monday that Mayhew had been named deputy administrator of CMS. She’s also expected to oversee the Children’s Health Program (CHIP)—a job she assumed Oct. 15. Combined, the agencies make up more than $350 billion of the U.S.’s annual budget.
Prior to her appointment, Mayhew served as Maine’s health commissioner for six years, “leading efforts to tighten the state’s Medicaid eligibility standards, add work requirements to the food stamp program and implement other conservative reforms,” according to Politico. She stepped down from her position in May 2017 and ran to succeed LePage as governor, a race she ultimately lost.
Some critics are pushing back against the appointment due to Mayhew’s track record. During her term in office, the Portland Press Herald reported, she played a “major role” in eliminating 70,000 beneficiaries from Maine’s Medicaid program and has historically been an opponent of Medicaid expansion.
“It’s an alarming choice given her track record,” Claire Berkowitz, executive director of the Maine Children’s Alliance, told Politico. “We saw the results in our data of parents who lost coverage under her leadership, and that’s concerning.”
Rep. Drew Gattine, the former Democratic chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, told the Press Herald Mayhew has spent the past eight years “gutting” services aimed at protecting children, seniors and adults with disabilities.
“I think she is someone who was antagonistic toward Medicaid,” he said. “So she fits into a long line of Trump appointees who are antagonistic about the programs they are asked to oversee.”