Saturday, July 13, 2024

Louisiana health officials get pay bumps with creation of surgeon general’s post

by BIZ Magazine

BY: JULIE O’DONOGHUE – Louisiana Illuminator

Two of the Louisiana Department of Health’s top officials received large pay increases after Gov. Jeff Landry and state lawmakers created the new surgeon general position last month. The governor’s administration eliminated another high-paying position in the agency to keep its budget in balance.

Landry picked former Congressman Dr. Ralph Abraham, a primary care physician, to serve as Louisiana’s first-ever surgeon general. Abraham will receive the same salary, $260,000 per year, he’s earned as secretary of the state health department over the past six months.

Two of his deputies saw pay hikes after a reshuffling of the agency’s executive team.

Michael Harrington got a $51,000 bump when he went from being undersecretary into Abraham’s old position as secretary. His pay has gone from $189,000 to $240,000 annually, according to Louisiana State Civil Service.

Drew Maranto moved from being Abraham’s chief of staff to replacing Harrington as the health department’s undersecretary. His pay has also gone up $20,000, from $150,000 to $170,00 per year, according to civil service.

The job title changes are not expected to increase the money spent on salaries in the health department overall. The Landry administration got rid of the state health officer post, a high-paying position that a physician held, and moved those duties under the surgeon general.

Louisiana’s previous state health officer, Dr. Joe Kanter, left the department in February and was making $244,000 annually at the end of last year, according to a state public salary database.
Last week, Landry said the surgeon general and health secretary will be expected to run the health department together. Abraham, as surgeon general, will focus more on public health concerns and medical treatment guidelines. Harrington will manage the state’s health care spending and 8,000 agency employees.

Health care spending accounts for almost half of the state government’s total operating budget annually. Louisiana expects to put $19.7 billion toward health care needs over the next year.

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