May 22, 2019
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Mayhew leaves Trump administration after less than 3 months for Florida post

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Mary Mayhew in January 2015.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The former Maine health and human services commissioner who led a conservative transformation of the state’s welfare system under former Gov. Paul LePage has left her job overseeing the federal Medicaid program after less than three months.

Mary Mayhew was hired by the administration of President Donald Trump to run Medicaid in mid-October, but she resigned by Friday for a new post under Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Mayhew, a former hospital lobbyist who ran the Maine Department of Health and Human Services under LePage from 2011 until 2017, became a Republican policy star and Democratic bogeyman during a tenure in which she oversaw steep reductions in the state’s welfare rolls and ran point on the former governor’s crusade against Medicaid expansion.

In a statement first reported on by The Washington Times, Mayhew said she was “grateful” for the federal job and the Trump administration’s “vision for state flexibility” in the Medicaid program made her want to return to administer programs at the state level.

Mayhew has Florida connections. She has traveled the country pushing conservative welfare policy for the Foundation for Government Accountability, an advocacy group based there and run by Maine native Tarren Bragdon, whose brother runs another firm that worked for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary campaign in which Mayhew finished third of four candidates.

In Maine, much of Mayhew’s work looks slated to be reversed by Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat who took over for the term-limited LePage on Wednesday after a Democratic wave election flipped the Blaine House, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and the state Senate.

On the first full day of her tenure on Thursday, Mills fulfilled a campaign promise by directing the department Mayhew once ran to begin implementing Medicaid expansion to an estimated 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act, which was approved by voters in 2017.

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