Michelle Probert has been chosen as director of MaineCare by Jeanne Lambrew, acting commissioner of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Credit: Contributed

Michelle Probert, former manager of integrated health services at Bath Iron Works, will lead MaineCare under acting DHHS commissioner Jeanne Lambrew, who announced the hire Monday.

Probert takes the position as Gov. Janet Mills’ administration is ramping up efforts to enroll recipients under a Medicaid eligibility expansion approved by Maine voters in 2017.

Prior to taking a job at the shipyard, Probert, 41, served for three years as director of the Department of Strategic Initiatives for MaineCare. In that role, Probert helped the program’s patient-centered health homes model to more than 170 primary care practices across Maine. She has more than a decade of human services experience in the region, which includes serving on the Maine Health Access Foundation Board and acting as chair of the Healthcare Purchaser Alliance of Maine.

In a prepared statement, Lambrew praised Probert’s “firsthand knowledge of Medicaid” and her “desire to advance the DHHS mission of promoting health, safety, well-being and opportunity” as department assets.

One of Probert’s initial tasks will be overseeing the continued implementation of expanded Medicaid eligibility, which Mills enacted through executive order on her first day in office. The Democrat’s administration continues to await word from federal Medicaid program oversees about whether Maine’s implementation plan will be approved, thereby allowing the state to begin to receive additional federal funds under the Affordable Care Act.

More than 255,000 people receive MaineCare services.

Probert’s other priorities will include working to improve children’s behavioral health services, helping to curb the opioid crisis and helping to provide affordable health care to seniors.

Probert is Lambrew’s first appointment in her new role. Lambrew, who worked under President Barack Obama as deputy assistant for health policy during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, was Mills’ first Cabinet pick.

Though she has not been formally confirmed as commissioner, Lambrew is slated to appear Thursday for a confirmation hearing before the legislative Committee on Health and Human Services. The Senate will hold a confirmation vote sometime early next month.