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Walker's health secretary Smith resigns

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm •  Published: February 22, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, who is in charge of overseeing the state's BadgerCare Medicaid programs, has resigned to take a job with a Washington law firm.

Gov. Scott Walker announced the resignation on Friday and appointed Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades to take over as secretary.

Smith's resignation letter is dated Thursday and said he was leaving effective March 1. The Washington law office of McKenna Long & Aldridge announced that Smith would be working on their health policy team, helping clients with "long-term market opportunities and business strategies" as well as developing health policy.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said Smith was not asked to resign. A request made to the DHS spokeswoman to speak with Smith was not immediately returned.

Smith has served as head of the agency since Walker took office in January 2011. The department has a roughly $3 billion annual budget and is in charge of overseeing BadgerCare and other public assistance programs, including FoodShare, Family Care and SeniorCare.

Smith has been at the forefront of Walker's health care agenda, overseeing the governor's refusal to implement major portions of the federal health care overhaul law.

Smith worked with Walker in crafting the governor's latest proposal, submitted to the Legislature this week, to turn down federal money to pay for Medicaid expansion. Instead, Walker wants to tighten income eligibility for the program, resulting in more people getting coverage through private health insurance marketplaces.

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