Louisiana Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee on Monday said she will resign at the end of January, ending a four-year tenure where she gained national attention for her innovative work on reforming drug pricing.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement that Gee had taken on a new job but did not disclose where, stating it would be announced "by her employer at a later date".
As health secretary, Gee was instrumental in overseeing the state's Medicaid expansion rollout. As of December 2019, more than 460,000 adults have gained healthcare coverage through Medicaid since Edwards expanded the program through executive order in 2016. Since Medicaid expansion, Louisiana's uninsured has been cut by nearly half, falling from 16.6% in 2013, according to Census data.
"She is a champion for improved health outcomes for all the people of our state, especially mothers and children," Edwards said in a statement. "I wish her well in the future."
Gee gained national headlines in 2019 when it was announced the state had entered an agreement with Gilead Sciences subsidiary Asegua Therapeutics on a plan to expand access to hepatitis-C drugs for Medicaid beneficiaries and prisoners. It was the country's first subscription-based payment model for drugs. Under the plan, the state receives unlimited access to hepatitis-C medications in exchange for a fixed price. Projections indicate the model will expand access to treatment to tens of thousands of residents and could lead to elimination of the virus within the state over the next several years.
Under Gee's tenure, Louisiana saw declining sexually transmitted infection rates, rising from third in the country in 2017 to seventh in 2018 for syphilis case rates. Louisiana also improved its gonorrhea rates in that time, rising from third in 2017 to fifth in 2018, according to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Edwards credited Gee for Louisiana's 32% decline in hemorrhages in delivering mothers and eliminating waiting lists for services for people with developmental disabilities.
Gee has also come under controversy. Republican state lawmakers criticized her for supporting abortion rights, a position that put her at odds with Edwards. In November, her department was sued by several families for allegedly failing to provide adequate mental health services to Medicaid-enrolled children.
Gee's last day is scheduled for Jan. 31. Her successor has yet to be named.
"It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Louisiana as the secretary of health," Gee said in a statement. "The policies we advanced will continue to move the needle — policies that will result in more children growing up healthy, and mothers who can watch them grow, more individuals with disabilities living independently, and more families thriving."