The Montana Senate Thursday confirmed Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s nominee to lead the state health department.
Adam Meier will be the next director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. DPHHS is the state’s largest agency, nearly half of the state’s general fund goes toward paying for it and its programs.
The department oversees Child Protective Services, the state Medicaid and Child Health Insurance programs and others for low-income Montanans. It’s also been the agency leading the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meier has been working as the appointed director since early February.
Republican Sen. David Howard presented his nomination to the Senate, and noted that Meier led 7,500 employees as head of the Kentucky state health department for a year and a half.
"This man has a tremendous professional experience," Howard said.
Meier has been one of Gianforte’s most controversial cabinet picks. One Republican and all but three Democrats voted against Meier’s nomination, citing his record at that previous job. Kaiser Health News reported Meier helped spearhead an effort to add work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program and was criticized for the state’s handling of a hepatitis outbreak.
Democratic Sen. Jen Gross said, "We cannot afford to make the same mistakes that were made in Kentucky."
Meier will make $165,000 per year, which is the most of any agency head and $50,000 per year more than what the previous director made.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the party breakdown of the vote. One Republican and all but three Democrats voted against Meier’s nomination. We regret the error.