LITTLE ROCK — Andy Allison, a top official in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has been named director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Medicaid Services.

LITTLE ROCK — Andy Allison, a top official in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, has been named director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Medicaid Services.

Allison replaces Gene Gessow, who recently resigned for family reasons.

Allison, who will have an annual salary of $125,000, is to start work Dec. 5.

He is currently executive director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Division of Health Care Finance, which oversees that state’s Medicaid program, Children’s Health Insurance Program and state employee health plans.

During his tenure in Kansas he was instrumental in a comprehensive redesign of Medicaid, which led to securing a $40 million grant to help fund a new Medicaid and CHIP eligibility system and achieved hospital payment reform, according to a DHS release.

Allison is the founding board member and current president of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

Allison has an bachelor’s degree in history from Ouachita Baptist University, a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University and a Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University.

“Andy has extraordinary qualifications and is well-respected by his peers,” said DHS Director John Selig. “He knows Arkansas, he knows Medicaid and he is a proven innovator.”

Allison takes over as work groups are hammering out details of a plan to change the way the state Medicaid program and private insurers pay for health care services in Arkansas.

In a statement released by DHS, Allison said the culture of the Medicaid program and all of health care must change for states to contain Medicaid spending and improve health outcomes for patients who rely on the program.

“Arkansas understands the challenges ahead for Medicaid and is already working to transform the payment model for the state’s entire health care system,” Allison said.