Brad Gilbert to resign as head of DHCS

POLITICO reporter Victoria Colliver reported Tuesday night that Brad Gilbert, Director of the California Department of Health Care Services, is resigning. Gov. Newsom announced the appointment of Gilbert as the new head of the Department at the end of January. He has served in the position for less than four months.



The following announcement was included in the POLITICO Pulse newsletter:

“TOP CALIFORNIA HEALTH OFFICIAL QUITS — The state’s Department of Health Care Services director is quitting less than four months into his tenure atop the agency in charge of California’s Medi-Cal system, POLITICO’s Victoria Colliver scoops.

Bradley Gilbert had planned to lead an ambitious overhaul of the state’s $104 billion Medicaid program, until the coronavirus blew a hole in the state’s budget. The system is now expecting to take on roughly 2 million people who lost their health benefits during the pandemic, and Gilbert has told colleagues he plans to leave DHCS on June 12.”

One health insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it’s speculated that Dr. Gilbert came out of retirement to lead DHCS because he wanted to work on Medi-Cal transformation efforts. But as soon as he became director, the state pivoted to focusing on COVID-19, stalling the transformation initiatives.

“I think this just wasn’t what he had expected to do and lead. And when you’re an innovator I think it’s really hard to be the one dealing with and having to okay budget cuts. We’re in a really bad fiscal situation; we did a complete 180 from where we were at the beginning of the year,” they said.

“I think it’s a shock to a lot of folks because he just started. It’s really sad. I mean, I get it. You know, he was retired and was he convinced to come out of retirement to do this for a very specific reason is my understanding. But, that’s just not the case and where we are at right now — the budget deficits are really bad.”

As for who will replace Gilbert, they say it was difficult to fill the position the first time around and there isn’t clarity about who will be appointed next.

“It’s a real problem that the state does not have a deep bench of people to draw from,” they said.

They also note that this isn’t the only top health position that will need to be filled in California. Shelley Rouillard, Director of the Department of Managed Health Care, will retire this summer.

“That is two top health care departments in the state that will be leaderless… it’s a concern.”

Nicole Evans, President of Nicole K. Evans Strategies, had this to say:

“Dr. Gilbert spent his career as a faithful public servant, working in public health, running one of the country’s largest Medicaid managed care plans and delaying a well-deserved retirement to run Medi-Cal and implement CalAIM. Even when he had locally based jobs, state policymakers looked to him for counsel and insight because of his strong leadership and expertise. His impact on Medi-Cal will be felt for years.”

Update: In an email sent last night, DHCS confirmed his resignation. In an email to employees, Gilbert wrote: 

“After much thought, I have decided to really retire and rejoin my family in Southern California,” he said. “Although I have been your Director for only a few months, it has been a privilege to have worked with so many dedicated public servants.”