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Director Saxton latest departure at OHA

Another high-profile resignation at the agency was Medicaid director Lori Coyner happened last month.

OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - Former OHA Director Lynne SaxtonThe Oregon Health Authority's director, Lynne Saxton, is leaving her post at the end of August.

Her departure follows an explosive story in The Portland Tribune last week showing a "communications plan" to plant negative stories about a Portland-area CCO that was battling the state in court over reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients.

Saxton is resigning at the request of the governor.

Gov. Kate Brown said in a prepared statement that she and Saxton agreed that her departure was "in the best interests of the agency."

"Lynne has led the Oregon Health Authority through its most challenging times and helped me ensure that every Oregonian has access to the care they need," Brown said. "She is known as a fighter for Oregon's values and I am proud of how she brought that level of commitment to the staff of OHA."

It's another high-profile leadership change at the agency; Medicaid director Lori Coyner resigned her post last month.

Coyner told The Oregonian late last month that her departure was not related to the agency's recent struggles to shore up its eligibility system for the Oregon Health Plan.

While the state struggles to get its healthcare house in order, Brown has maintained a national profile on health care issues and this week announced her appointment as 2017-18 vice chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of the National Governors' Association.

The Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, will be the committee chair.

According to the NGA, members of the association rank their "top choices" for committee leadership, although the final decisions are made by the association's chair, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and vice chair, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D).

Committee leadership switches off parties — last year, the health and human services committee chair was a Democrat and the vice chair was a Republican.

Governors weren't shy about weighing in about health care issues at their recent summer meeting, which was held prior to the most recent downfall of the Affordable Care Act repeal in Congress.

States could opt in to the expanded Medicaid program created by the ACA; D.C. and 31 states, including Oregon, did.

In a statement about her appointment, Brown called Oregon a "nationwide leader in expanding access to health care and bending the cost curve."

"I look forward working with Governor Baker and the committee to advocate for bipartisan solutions that will provide certainty to families, stabilize the insurance market, and protect families against rollbacks of the tremendous progress we have made as a country," Brown said.

According to the NGA, "Members of the committee ensure that the governors' views are represented in the shaping of federal policy."