COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster announced Joshua Baker as the next director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
“Mr. Baker’s top-level policy expertise, combined with his medical experience, makes him uniquely qualified for this post,” said Gov. McMaster. “I have complete confidence in his ability to lead the agency towards achieving its core mission of providing healthcare for South Carolinians in need in the most efficient way possible.”
Earlier this spring, the governor created a search committee of state healthcare leaders that assisted him throughout the selection process following the departure of former agency director Christian Soura. That group included:
- Senator Thomas Alexander, Chairman of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee
- Representative Murrell Smith, Chairman of the Healthcare Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Thornton Kirby, President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association
- Jim Ritchie, Executive Director of SC Alliance of Health Plans
- Tricia Richardson, Executive Director of SC Thrive
“The Department of Health and Human Services is well positioned to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing healthcare landscape thanks to the steady leadership of Director Soura, Acting Director Singleton, and the agency’s dedicated staff,” Mr. Baker said. “I look forward to building on the agency’s solid foundation with continued modernization efforts so South Carolina’s health delivery system may better meet the needs of our citizens.”
Since August of 2016, Mr. Baker has served as Director of Operations for DHHS. In that capacity, he oversees a claims receipt, review, and payment operation that processes over $2 billion of Medicaid health service claims annually, while maintaining a credentialing system of more than 46,000 participating Medicaid providers.
Prior to joining DHHS, Mr. Baker served as Governor Nikki Haley’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Budget and Policy, and was the primary author of the FY 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 executive budgets. He began his career in the medical field through service in the United States Army, where he filled several technical and leadership roles in clinical laboratories.
“Josh is known around the State House for his policy expertise,” said Chairman Alexander. “He is certainly qualified to lead DHHS through this period of uncertainty in our healthcare system.”
“Josh is a strong conservative and exceedingly qualified for the role of DHHS director,” said Chairman Murrell Smith. “His work to clear backlogs and implement new automated claims procedures demonstrates his commitment to efficient, responsible stewardship of DHHS and of taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with him.”
After a thorough review of all the candidates, the choice was clear,” said Jim Ritchie. “I am eager to work with Josh to address South Carolina’s healthcare needs.”
“Josh Baker has proven himself to be an innovator and problem-solver during his time in the governor’s office and at DHHS, and the hospitals and healthcare professionals of South Carolina look forward to working with him to continue improving our state’s Medicaid program,” Thornton Kirby. “We also express our sincere thanks to Deirdra Singleton, whose tenure as acting director has been marked by wisdom and compassion. The Medicaid program is a vital asset for the health of a quarter of all South Carolinians, and we commend Governor McMaster for listening to stakeholders as he selected the next leader of the Medicaid agency.”
Baker, 36, is a resident of Lexington County and is married with three children.