Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, is leaving Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.
Her resignation is effective Jan. 31. Gee has taken a new job, which will be announced at a later date by her new employer, the administration says. A successor has not yet been announced.
“I look forward to remaining in this great state and continuing my work of improving the lives and healthcare of all our residents,” Gee said in a prepared statement.
Edwards, a Democrat, praised Gee’s work at the health department, including her efforts to manage the Medicaid expansion the governor launched at the beginning of his first term.
“Under her leadership, we brought health care to more than 460,000 hard-working adults who now have access to the medical services they need to live healthier lives, to fight chronic illness and, in some cases, survive,” Edwards said. “I am thankful for her partnership on this issue and on her life-changing – and saving – work to eliminate Hepatitis C in Louisiana, to fight opioid addiction and to lower the rate of HIV in our state.”
Under Gee’s tenure, the state saw STD rankings, including HIV, decline; a renewed focus on maternal mortality resulted in a 32 percent drop in severe health consequences of hemorrhage in moms who are giving birth; and the elimination of a waiting list for services for people with developmental disabilities, the administration says.
Gee often was at the center of controversy, particularly regarding how state government manages Medicaid. Republican critics said the department resisted legislative oversight and didn’t do enough to keep ineligible recipients out of the Medicaid program.
“First thing we’re going to do is put someone over [the Department of Health] that is not a part-time doctor,” Republican Eddie Rispone said during his unsuccessful run for governor, adding he would hire people “with the right motivations.”
Many social conservatives were wary of Gee because she supports abortion rights, though Edwards is anti-abortion.
"We at the Republican Party of Louisiana are pleased to learn that after four years of ruinous mismanagement, Dr. Rebecca Gee has resigned from her post as Louisiana‘s Secretary of the Department of Health," said Louis Gurvich, who chairs the state GOP. "This time, the people of Louisiana deserve a full-time leader for the department which spends nearly half of the state’s entire budget."