Governor-elect Terry Branstad announced today that ophthalmologist Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will run the Iowa Department of Public Health in his administration. A press release noted that Miller-Meeks “has served as the first woman President of the Iowa Medical Society and was the first [woman] on the faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa and councilor for Iowa to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.” Miller-Meeks was the Republican nominee in Iowa’s second Congressional district in 2008 and 2010. She worked hard during both campaigns but lost to Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s most Democratic-leaning Congressional district.
Also on December 9, Branstad announced that he will tap Chuck Palmer to head the Department of Human Services in his administration. Palmer did that job during Branstad’s previous time as governor from 1989 to 1999. Most recently he has been president of Iowans for Social and Economic Development, “an asset development organization with the mission of creating opportunities for low and moderate income Iowans to increase income and achieve financial stability.”
Branstad has pledged to reduce the size of state government by 15 percent, and keeping that promise would likely require significant cuts in the departments Miller-Meeks and Palmer will be running. The current budget (fiscal year 2011) allocated $935.5 million from the general fund to health and human services. That’s 17.7 percent of the general fund budget alone, or 15.9 percent of total state expenditures, including federal stimulus money and reserve funds as well as general fund spending. More than $200 million in federal stimulus money supported Iowa’s Medicaid budget in the current budget year, but similar support won’t be forthcoming in future years now that Republicans have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Branstad administration press releases on Miller-Meeks and Palmer are after the jump.