Texas Medicaid Director Billy Millwee announced in May that he is retiring from state service Aug. 31.
During a 20-year state career, Millwee served in a variety of key Medicaid-related positions, helped deploy the Medicaid Management Information System and worked to expand Medicaid managed care.
Medicaid /CHIP managers working under Millwee would quickly learn that, on days they’re struggling with their jobs, their boss could feel their pain.
“I’ve had just about every job within this division,” Millwee recalled, “from policy to managed care, claims administration — anything else you could name.
“I just tell them, ‘Hey, I can sympathize with you because I’ve done your job,’” Millwee said with a chuckle. “It’s easier to feel empathy for someone if you’ve walked in their shoes.”
Another truth that Millwee’s colleagues would discover: He doesn’t fit the stereotype of the managerial utility player whose varied resume speaks more to stamina than creative versatility. During his years with the legacy Texas Department of Health, Millwee helped initiate groundbreaking programs such as the Texas Trauma System, Shots Across Texas and Texas Health Steps.
When Medicaid moved to HHSC in 2002, Millwee transferred with the program and held progressively more responsible positions, including leadership for Medicaid Policy and Operations, Contract Management, Managed Care and Claims Administrator Operations. Most recently, he has served as both Medicaid / CHIP director and deputy executive commissioner for Health Services, where he led the agency’s successful effort to get federal approval of the Medicaid transformation waiver.
Last year, Millwee was one of a handful of state Medicaid administrators picked for a prestigious national fellowship for Medicaid leaders (see Ivy League beckons: Texas Medicaid team wraps up national fellowship work, May / June 2012 In Touch).