Beshear names Audrey Haynes secretary of embattled Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Audrey Tayse Haynes, who is a social worker by training but knows her way around politics, government and the nonprofit world, will be the new secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She will replace Janie Miller, who resigned last month after controversies over Medicaid managed care and release of child-abuse records.

“Audrey brings a dynamic mix of large-scale organization management, policy development, and government experience to this position,” said Gov. Steve Beshear, who made the appointment. “This cabinet is a complex organization, with a broad range of programs that serve tens of thousands of our most vulnerable Kentuckians. Audrey has the right skills and resources to make sure our citizens continue to get the care and services they need.”

Haynes, who starts her new job April 16, has spent the last 10 years as senior vice president and chief government affairs officer for the YMCA of the USA in Washington, D.C. During the latter part of the Clinton administration, she was chief of staff to Tipper Gore and an assistant to Vice President Al Gore. She first went to Washington on an appointment from Gov. Paul Patton as head of the state’s policy office in the nation’s capital.

Earlier, she was director of human resource development in the Department of Mental Health in the former Cabinet for Human Resources, and ran a literacy program with First Lady Martha Wilkinson in the administration of Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, respectively, from Spalding University in Louisville and the University of Kentucky.

“From my experience working with Audrey Haynes, I know her to be a consummate professional,” former state auditor Crit Luallen, who worked with Haynes during the Patton administration, said in the Beshear administration’s press release. “She will bring strong management skills, as well as national leadership experience to this critical cabinet post.”

Haynes said in the release, “I am excited to be back in Kentucky full time. CHFS impacts every single Kentuckian — whether through birth certificates, health departments, restaurant inspections or services to the elderly. I feel that I am returning to my roots of social work and mental health services.”
One of her first areas of focus will likely be monitoring the new Medicaid system, which brought managed care to 560,000 recipients in November. During the current legislative session, lawmakers have heard complaints about the transition, including the manner in which those with mental illnesses are being treated. “Now that Secretary Haynes is in place, we can continue to make progress on major initiatives such as managed care and ensure that our citizens get the services they deserve,” said Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, chairman of the subcommittee that writes the cabinet’s budget. (Read more)
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