Dr. Joshua Sharfstein is stepping down as Maryland's top health official to take a position with Johns Hopkins University
His departure at the start of next year will coincide with the end of Gov. Martin O'Malley's second term in office. Sharfstein has served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since 2011.
Sharfstein, a pediatrician, brought a strong public health emphasis to the post, including efforts to reduce substance abuse and lower infant deaths. In January, Maryland became the first state in the country
to accept caps on hospital payments by Medicare and Medicaid.
But Sharfstein also came under fire for his stewardship of Maryland's problem-plagued health insurance exchange
, which suffered technical problems throughout the 2014 open-enrollment period. The website is now being rebuilt with software obtained from Connecticut.
“If fixing problems is part of the job, so too is owning up to them,” Sharfstein wrote in a letter (PDF)
announcing his departure. “The IT problems of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange last year are certainly not going to make my highlight reel.”
Sharfstein previously served as commissioner of health in Baltimore, principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and top minority staffer on the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee. He will become the associate dean for public health practice and training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The position will allow me to stay involved in my city of Baltimore and my state of Maryland,” Sharfstein wrote, “while engaging with national and global challenges and helping to train a new generation of public health leaders.”Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko