New Mexico’s Medicaid director, who was involved in the state’s controversial behavioral health shake-up in 2013, is leaving her $103,000-a-year position later this month to go to work for the private contractor that had set the provider overhaul in motion.
The head of at least one organization affected by the shake-up sees a conflict of interest in Julie Weinberg’s job change.
Weinberg, 46, will step down as Medicaid director at the state Human Services Department effective Jan. 16, according to her resignation letter, obtained by The New Mexican. The department confirmed that Weinberg is leaving to accept a job at a division of OptumHealth, a private company that had a state contract to oversee Medicaid-funded behavioral health services in 2013, when suspicions of Medicaid billing fraud prompted the state to terminate funding to 15 providers.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Santa Fe-based Easter Seals El Mirador, one of those ousted providers, said Weinberg’s move from state Medicaid director to Optum raises ethical questions. “There certainly would be an appearance of a conflict of interest in [Weinberg] going to work for a contractor that Medicaid contracted with,” Johnson said.