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Janet Mills’ first two nominations indicate a return to the past for DHHS, State Budget

Screenshot from a Janet Mills commercial on health care. Courtesy Janet Mills Facebook page.

AUGUSTA – Janet Mills’ first two picks to head up important state agencies indicate she plans to look to the past to guide her administration.

Last week, Mills announced former Obama administration official Jeanne Lambrew, perhaps most famous for the debacle of the failed $600 million Obamacare website, to head DHHS.

Then today, Mills announced she would nominate Kirsten Figueroa to run the state’s budget department, the Department of Administrative & Financial Services.

Figueroa is known for her work as Deputy Director of Finance at Maine DHHS under Gov. John Baldacci, when the department was regularly running deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Figueroa also served as the Chief Financial Officer of Dirigo Health, the Baldacci administration program which failed so spectacularly it triggered tax increases and was eventually eliminated, never coming close to reaching the program’s projected goals, despite costing far more than projected.

Figueroa has more recently worked leading the finance division of the Maine Attorney General’s office under Janet Mills, during the period of time when Governor LePage was demanding greater financial accountability for the billing by the Attorney General’s office. Mills’ office refused to provide the information LePage was seeking.

Mills will continue to announce nominations to lead state agencies over the next couple of weeks as she prepares to take office.

Mills promised to expand Medicaid under Obamacare “on day one”, and her nominations so far look like she is focusing on returning to the Baldacci/Obama officials who have attempted health care reforms in the past.

It is uncertain what long term impact the recent federal court ruling that the Affordable Care Act violates the U.S. Constitution will have on Maine’s long term plans in expanding Medicaid.

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