Dr. Mandy Cohen steps down

Governor Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that Dr. Mandy Cohen, the head of the North Carolina Department of Health, will regularly update the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state for two years and she will step down.

“Dr. Cohen, the people of North Carolina owe you a deep gratitude,” Cooper said at the briefing of the State Coronavirus Task Force on Tuesday. “You are so lucky for our country.”

According to the press release, Cohen plans to spend more time with her family while exploring new opportunities to continue her work to improve the health and well-being of the state. The press release did not elaborate. Cohen only said that she would need to “rest and recover” next, calling the past two years “quite a marathon.”

She said she discussed her departure with Cooper a few weeks ago.

Cohen said at the working group briefing: “Although it is difficult to leave, for me personally, this is the right time and the right time for our team.” “Serving this country at such an important historical moment is a lifetime. pleasure.”

Cohen said she had no plans to run for office because there was speculation about her departure. She said she hopes that the next steps will allow her and her family to stay in North Carolina, and she will look for a series of opportunities.

Cooper appointed internal medicine physician Cohen as Minister of Health and Human Services in January 2017. She led North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 and served as the governor’s chief adviser and pandemic strategist.

Prior to taking over the agency, Cohen was the Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in President Barack Obama’s Administration.

In addition to his role in North Carolina’s COVID-19 response, Cohen also became the governor’s chief lobbyist for the Medicaid program, the state’s $18 billion plan to provide medical insurance for approximately 2.5 million people.

From the beginning of his role as secretary, Cohen has been urging Cooper to pass the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to expand Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of other low-income adults, although he has not succeeded.

Republicans in charge of the legislature are still divided on this idea. But repeated negotiations with Phil Berger, the long-time opposition to expansion, have contributed to Berger’s willingness to consider expansion this year as part of negotiations with Cooper on the state budget.

In a statement, Berger praised Cohen for helping the state survive the pandemic.

“Secretary of State Cohen’s leadership role during his tenure at DHHS helped our state weather the turbulent times,” Berger said. “She allowed legislators to answer questions and let us understand the problems facing the department. She has also played an important role in the successful implementation of the Medicaid transformation. I want to thank her for her service to the country and wish her in her future endeavours all the best. “

In July, Cohen’s agency also began to implement a legislative mandate to transform two-thirds of Medicaid recipients from traditional fee-for-service programs to programs that rely on managed care to improve health outcomes and control costs.

The press release stated that Cody Kingsley, the department’s chief deputy minister for health and head of COVID-19 operations, will succeed Cohen on January 1, 2022.

Cooper’s office stated that Kingsley, a native of Wilmington, will become the first publicly gay cabinet member in state government history. He needs to accept the state Senate’s confirmation vote. Since he took office in early 2017, all cabinet candidates have been approved by the Senate except for one of Cooper’s cabinet choices.

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