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The Scoop

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Doctor to lead Indiana Family & Social Services Administration

Dr. John J. Wernert

Statements verbatim, as issued Wednesday by the office of Gov. Mike Pence:

Indianapolis – Today, Governor Mike Pence named Dr. John. J. Wernert as Secretary of Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration (FSSA), the first medical doctor in the history of FSSA to serve in this role. In addition, Governor Pence named former FSSA Secretary Michael Gargano as Deputy Secretary for Operations and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0.

“With more than two decades in the medical field serving some of our most vulnerable Hoosiers, Dr. John J. Wernert has the expertise, character, and history of service to lead Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration,” said Governor Pence. “With his extensive background in medical practice and administration, Dr. Wernert is uniquely qualified to lead the Family & Social Services Administration during this time of opportunity and transition.”

A practicing psychiatrist in central Indiana since 1989, Dr. John J. Wernert, of Carmel, currently serves as the Medical Director of Medical Management at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as well as the Medical Director for Behavioral Health Integration for the Franciscan Alliance system in Indiana. He is also the incoming President of the Indiana State Medical Association, a member of the Wisconsin Physician Services Federal Medicare Advisory Committee, and a member of the Drug Utilization Review Board for the Indiana Medicaid program. Dr. Wernert will resign from each of these positions before beginning his new role as Secretary of FSSA.

Dr. Wernert, who serves as the Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has held various leadership roles in medical professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Indianapolis Medical Society. He is also a consultant for the Catholic Archdioceses of Indianapolis, as well as a member of a number of charitable boards. Most recently, he worked as the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs for MDwise, Inc. Previously, Dr. Wernert held positions at various hospitals managing geriatric Inpatient units and Behavioral Health consulting services including St. Francis Hospital and Health System, Winona Hospital Senior Adult Unit, ADVANTAGE Health Plan, Clarian Health, Indianapolis Psychiatric Associates, and Methodist Medical Group. He is a partner in Professional Development Associates, a consulting group that provides continuing medical education programs and telehealth services. Dr. Wernert has also worked in various long-term care facilities, community health centers and federally qualified health centers (FQHC’s) throughout Indiana. His clinical work has focused on providing comprehensive services for the uninsured and Medicaid populations in high need areas of the state.

Dr. Wernert, who earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University and his M.D. from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, also obtained postgraduate degrees in the fields of public management and health administration from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Former FSSA Secretary Michael Gargano will rejoin FSSA as Deputy Secretary for Operations and HIP 2.0. In this position, Gargano will lead preparations for the implementation of HIP 2.0, if approved by federal officials, at FSSA. As part of this effort, he will align agency priorities to ensure that HIP 2.0 is ready to accept enrollees in a timely and successful manner.

“Michael Gargano is a proven leader whose knowledge and firsthand experience within Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration will serve our new Secretary, the State, and some of our most vulnerable citizens with professionalism and integrity,” said Governor Pence. “I am grateful that Michael Gargano is returning to public service at a time of great opportunity for this agency and the Hoosiers who depend upon it.”

Gargano currently serves as Managing Director of CSpring, where he is responsible for the company’s business development and service delivery initiatives. With more than 30 years in the private and public sectors, Gargano previously served as Secretary of FSSA from November 2010 to 2013. There, he led efforts to improve the efficiency and care provided to Hoosier clients of the agency. He has also held senior management positions with KPMG LLP and Covansys Corporation as well as within his own company, Watertown Group LLC, which provided management consulting services to state and local governments. Gargano serves as Executive Committee Treasurer for the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and previously served as President of the Indiana Cord Blood Bank and Vice-Chair and Secretary of Indiana Health Information Technology, Inc. He is a graduate of Kent State University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in accounting and his MBA.

“Every Hoosier should be confident that this team will serve Indiana’s most vulnerable population to the very best of their abilities,” said Governor Pence. “Together, Dr. John Wernert and Michael Gargano have the right skills at the right time to lead Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration.”

Current FSSA Secretary Debra Minott’s departure is effective July 5, 2014. Deputy Secretary Gargano will serve as Secretary of FSSA in an interim capacity, from July 6th until July 21st, when Dr. Wernert will assume the role of Secretary.

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