- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The director of Arkansas’ Department of Human Services said Thursday that he will leave his job by the end of the year.

John Selig said in a news release that he told Gov. Asa Hutchinson about his plans to leave the department that has overseen the implementation of the state’s “private option” Medicaid expansion plan. Hutchinson said in an emailed statement that he met with Selig on Wednesday and asked him to stay on through January to help with the transition.

“Yesterday, Director Selig informed me that he wished to leave government service in order to spend some time in the private sector,” Hutchinson wrote. “John has given so much to the state of Arkansas through 25 years of service. I am personally appreciative of his leadership, friendship and wise counsel during a time of great change in the healthcare industry and during the first year of my administration.”

Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy Webb said Selig, who has served as director of the agency since 2005, had been considering resigning for a while but wanted to wait for the right time because of ongoing initiatives. She said the department has made progress on the state’s enrollment system and recommendations from a legislative task force examining the private option program and alternatives for health coverage for enrollees are expected by the end of the year.

Under the private option, Arkansas’ own approach to the federal Affordable Care Act, the state uses federal money to help buy private insurance for poorer residents.

“It’s hard to leave, but I feel like the time is right. DHS may see some big changes next year, and I think that would be a good time for new leadership,” Selig wrote.

Webb said Selig plans to stay long enough to help his eventual replacement with the transition. Hutchinson did not say whether he had someone in mind for the position.

“I think he plans to be flexible. If the transition doesn’t take as long or if he’s needed past January, I think he would stay for however long he’s needed,” she said. “That will give the new director some time to get up to speed.”

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