• 68°

Gee to leave state health department

On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has accepted the resignation of Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee, effective Jan. 31. Gee has taken a new job, which will be announced by her employer at a later date.

“On my first day in office, I signed an executive order expanding Medicaid, and since day one, Dr. Gee has been on the front lines of this transformational improvement to health care in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “Under her leadership, we brought health care to more than 460,000 hard-working adults who now have access to the medical services they need to live healthier lives, to fight chronic illness and, in some cases, survive.

“I am thankful for her partnership on this issue and on her life-changing — and saving — work to eliminate hepatitis C in Louisiana, to fight opioid addiction and to lower the rate of HIV in our state. She is a champion for improved health outcomes for all the people of our state, especially mothers and children. I wish her well in the future.”

Under Gee’s leadership, the Department of Health has seen many successes, including Medicaid expansion, which brought the state’s overall uninsured rate to an all-time low of only eight percent, while saving lives and creating new jobs and economic growth in the process.

Gee led innovative efforts to reform drug pricing, resulting in affordable hepatitis C medications for Louisiana that have made it possible for unprecedented numbers of Louisiana residents to be treated for this deadly illness. The agreement, along with a first in the nation implementation plan executed by the Department of Health, could lead to the elimination of this virus for the state.

Additionally, under Gee’s tenure the state saw STD rankings, including HIV, decline; a renewed focus on maternal mortality resulted in a 32 percent drop in severe health consequences of hemorrhage in moms who are giving birth; and the elimination of a waiting list for services for people with developmental disabilities. These are among the many accomplishments focused on improving the health of Louisiana residents.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Louisiana as the Secretary of Health. I am thankful to Governor Edwards and to the people of our state for trusting me to serve,” Gee said. “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.

“I look forward to remaining in this great state and continuing my work of improving the lives and healthcare of all our residents.”