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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Cabinet Appoints New Medicaid Commissioner

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, June 27, 2012  
Contact Information:  Media Contact: Gwenda Bond or Beth Fisher
(502) 564-678, ext. 3100 or ext. 3101

Lawrence Kissner to assume oversight of the Department for Medicaid Services on July 1

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 27, 2012) – Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes today announced the appointment of Lawrence Kissner as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services. Kissner brings an extensive background in the health care field to the post, and will officially begin his duties at the Cabinet on July 1, 2012.

“I’m pleased to welcome Lawrence Kissner as Kentucky Medicaid commissioner,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “He brings the knowledge and experience of both Medicaid and managed care that the Commonwealth needs at this critical time for the program. I believe he will help ensure that the Medicaid program is more cost efficient and, most importantly, more effective in providing high quality care to the Kentuckians we serve.”  

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s in business administration, Kissner has nearly 30 years of experience in the private insurance industry, including more than 17 years specifically in managed care. Most recently he served as the president and CEO of Magnolia Health Plan in Jackson, Miss., one of two managed care companies that provide insurance for Medicaid beneficiaries served by that state’s coordinated access network program. Kissner also has strong ties to Kentucky, having served as president and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Kentucky from 2004-2006, and he has maintained a home in Lexington since that time.

“I am thrilled to have someone with Lawrence’s breadth of managed care knowledge join the Cabinet as commissioner of Medicaid,” Secretary Haynes said. “He will be tremendously helpful to us as we near the end of the first year of statewide Medicaid managed care. He brings the right experience to the table to help manage not just our in-house Medicaid staff, but to work effectively with the large managed care organizations that now cover most of our Medicaid members. I know he shares our commitment to improving the health status of Kentuckians in the Medicaid program.”

As Commissioner, Kissner will oversee the day-to-day management of the state’s Medicaid program, which serves more than 800,000 vulnerable Kentuckians and has an annual budget of approximately $6 billion.

“I’m honored to join Governor Beshear’s administration, and I look forward to working closely with Secretary Haynes as we strive to improve the health of Kentuckians covered by Medicaid,” said Kissner. “This is an exciting and challenging time for the Kentucky Medicaid program. The transition to managed care presents us with many opportunities to move the health needle in the right direction, while also helping to manage costs in a way that will preserve this vital health safety net for the long-term.”

Acting commissioner Neville Wise, a career state employee who has spent more than 22 years in various positions within the Medicaid program, will remain with the Department for Medicaid Services.

“I would be remiss if I did not also express my sincere appreciation to Neville Wise for his extraordinary dedication and hard work. There is no way we could thank him enough for his commitment to serving the Cabinet, particularly during his time as acting commissioner. He is a vital member of our team and will be extremely helpful to Lawrence in this transition,” said Secretary Haynes. 


The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.


Last Updated 6/27/2012