Gov. Cox Names Interim Medicaid Director

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today announced Gov. Spencer Cox has appointed Tonya Hales as the Interim State Medicaid Director. Hales will serve as interim Medicaid director until Jack Szczepanowski starts as the Medicaid director in mid-January 2022. Hales will serve as the Assistant Deputy Director of Health Care Administration in the newly consolidated Utah Department of Health and Human Services which will formally begin operations on July 1, 2022.

Hales will be replacing Emma Chacon who has served as interim Medicaid director since March 2021. Chacon is retiring after 16 years of service within Medicaid, and 29 years with the Department of Human Services, including 12 years as the director of the Office of Recovery Services.

“Emma Chacon has served the state of Utah and its citizens tirelessly over the course of her career,” said Nate Checketts, executive director of the UDOH. “I relied heavily on Emma when I was Medicaid director and cannot thank her enough for her support and her efforts over the years. She has resolutely advocated for the vulnerable individuals Medicaid serves and their access to medical care, while balancing the complexities of a program that is continually in the spotlight during a worldwide pandemic.”  

Medicaid is one of the largest programs in state government and contributes significantly to the financing of Utah’s health care system. Medicaid has an operating budget of more than $4.5 billion, and through its many programs provides more than 410,000 Utahns access to health care every year.   

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