The former health commissioner who transformed Maine’s welfare system is leaving public office in Florida to return to lobbying for hospitals.
Mary Mayhew, who served as the commissioner of Health and Human Services under Republican Gov. Paul LePage for six years, will leave her top post at the Florida Agency for Health Administration to join the Florida Hospital Association, the Orlando Weekly reported Saturday.
Mayhew oversaw years of public health cuts in Maine and implemented changes to the state’s welfare system that cut benefits for thousands of Mainers. She oversaw the redeployment of a key funding source for low-income Mainers’ benefits to pay for a variety of unrelated Department of Health and Human Services programs. And she led LePage’s resistance to voter-approved Medicaid expansion — put into place last year by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills — before making an unsuccessful run at replacing him in 2018.
That loss was followed by a brief stint as the director of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program for the Trump administration before Mayhew headed to Florida. She has been at the helm of the state’s coronavirus pandemic response, and leaves amid a controversy surrounding the awarding of a $135 million contract to a company that built the state’s unemployment system, the Weekly reported. Florida has recorded the second highest infection rate in the nation since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the 17th highest death rate.
Mayhew’s change in position signals a return to lobbying for the controversial commissioner, who was not always a champion of conservative health policy.
She entered the Maine political scene as the campaign manager for Democrat Pat McGowan’s 1990 congressional race against then-U.S. Rep. Olympia Snowe, a Republican. Before joining LePage’s administration in 2011, she served as the vice president of the Maine Hospital Association for 11 years.