Just days after Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist named the former chief executive officer of Nashville-based St. Thomas Health Services to a newly created finance and healthcare post, the director of TennCare, the state's healthcare program for its uninsured, abruptly resigned.
Brian Lapps Sr. quit early last week after a turbulent eight months as TennCare director. He would have had to report to John Tighe, former CEO of St. Thomas Health Services, in his new role as deputy commissioner of Tennessee's Department of Finance and Administration.
Lapps' announcement marks the sixth time the TennCare program will be in need of new leadership in its five years of existence.
Tighe was named to his new state position less than a week before Lapps announced his resignation.
"I think it is appropriate that I step down as director at this time, so that John Tighe can build his team from the ground up," Lapps said in a prepared statement. "There are many issues facing TennCare, and I will do all that I can to make the transition a smooth one for the program."
In his eight months on the job, Lapps had aroused the ill-will of some legislators, managed-care companies and advocates for the uninsured, taking controversial stands on coverage issues and making comments that were perceived as disparaging about TennCare recipients.
Tighe was to assume his new post in mid-October, but with Lapps' resignation, Tighe stepped in to take on the former TennCare director's duties as acting director of the program.
Tighe had been CEO of St. Thomas Health Services, the parent company of St. Thomas Hospital, until January, when he resigned in the wake of two failed merger attempts and financial distress at the hospital.