Neall Taps Two Public Health Veterans for Key Posts at State Health Dept.

Maryland Health Secretary Robert R. Neall on Thursday installed two public health veterans in key positions within the agency. Neall announced that Howard Haft would be the executive director for the new Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP) and that Fran Phillips would be replacing Haft as the deputy secretary for Public Health Services.  Dr. Howard Haft Haft, who has served as deputy secretary since 2015, will now focus on organizing a new agency within the Health Department, which is scheduled to launch on Jan. 1, 2019. It is being set up to implement MDPCP, a voluntary program that offers assistance and technical support for health care providers. The development stems from the all-payer model contract that the state signed recently with the federal government and is designed to coordinate care for patients across both hospital and non-hospital settings, improve health outcomes, and constrain the growth of health care costs. “Dr. Haft’s leadership as deputy secretary for Public Health Services has been integral to the success of the Department,” Neall said in a statement. “His demonstrated insight and leadership will be equally important to the success of the new Maryland Primary Care Program.” Haft will assume his new role on Aug. 28.

Phillips, current acting Anne Arundel County health officer since 2017, will take over Haft’s job as deputy secretary for Public Health Services. She returns to the Maryland Department of Health, having previously served as deputy secretary for Public Health Services from 2008 to 2013. Prior to her first appointment in 2008, Ms. Phillips was the health officer for Anne Arundel County from 1993 to 2008, including a term in 2004 when she served as interim county fire chief. “Fran will return to a role she is quite familiar with,” said Neall. “I’m thrilled to welcome her back and to see the great work she will do in leading public health efforts throughout Maryland.” Phillips will play a key role in the state’s efforts in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic, provide management oversight for the state’s rural health plan, and lead other state initiatives for programs including asthma, lead poisoning, smoking cessation, and more. She will assume her new role on Aug. 29. “Anne Arundel County has been blessed to have such dedicated public servant like Fran serving our citizens,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steven R. Schuh (R). “She leaves an incredible legacy of public service in our jurisdiction.” In Anne Arundel County government, Billie Penley, current budget director for the Health Department, will serve as the new acting health officer. David Rose, deputy health officer, will oversee the county’s opioid treatment and prevention efforts. jkurtz@marylandmatters.org

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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