Barbour Taps Temp for Medicaid

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Governor-elect Haley Barbour has named the retired leader of the University of Mississippi Medical Center as interim director of the state's Division of Medicaid.

Dr. Wallace Conerly, who retired from UMC last June, says he hopes to run the program for no more than 60 days. But Barbour said Monday that it might take up to four months to find someone willing to take on the complicated job.

Barbour said he chose Conerly because the former medical school dean understands Medicaid and knows people in Washington who control the program.

Conerly, a Tylertown native, served as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school at UMC. He held the post from 1994 until his June 30 resignation.

Conerly succeeds Rica Lewis-Payton, who has been Medicaid director under Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Lewis-Payton is going to work in a new position at UMC.

Conerly, 68, said one of his primary responsibilities will be finding a permanent Medicaid director to serve during the Barbour administration.