East Hawaii News

DHS Med-QUEST Names New Administator

May 11, 2015, 11:55 AM HST
* Updated May 11, 12:01 PM
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The Med-QUEST Division of the State of Hawai’i Department of Human Services has appointed a new Administrator in July Mohr Peterson, Ph.D.

Dr. Mohr Peterson is a nationally-recognized leader in Medicaid, health care transformation, and Affordable Care Act implementation. She will begin her work in Hawai’i on July 1.

Since September 2009, Dr. Mohr Peterson has served as Oregon’s State Medicaid Director. In her role, she built the structure of Oregon’s successful health system transformation and coverage expansion. She increased local community and primary care through coordinated care organizations. These organizations reduced emergency department visits and hospitalizations for chronic conditions for Medicaid clients.

“Dr. Peterson’s leadership as Medicaid director in Oregon is ideal for Hawai’i as we consider innovations within our own Medicaid programs,” says Governor David Ige. “I expect she will work closely with DHS Director Rachael Wong to reshape the culture of government and improve services for our keiki, kupuna, and all Hawai’i people.”

Improving care for people who need it most has been at the forefront of Dr. Mohr Peterson’s focus. In Oregon, she used the tools available as a major health care purchaser and brought physical, mental, and dental services together so that patients would be at the center of care.


“I am excited that Judy is joining the DHS team,” DHS Director Rachael Wong said. “She brings with her the experience, expertise, and passion that align with my vision for the Department and Med-QUEST Division.”


Currently, Dr. Mohr Peterson sits on the board of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, as well as an advisor to the National Organization for State and Local Officials. She contributes to multiple organizations focused on health care delivery system and payment reform. In 2010, Dr. Mohr Peterson was one of six Medicaid Director Fellows name in Robert Wood Johnson’s Medicaid Leadership Institute.

In 1997, Dr. Mohr Peterson began her career with Medicaid. Before becoming Director, she spent eight years managing the Analysis, Evaluation and Quality Improvement sections for the Oregon Medicaid agency and five years managing caseload forecasting, actuarial services, and the Oregon Health Authority budget. Prior to working for the Oregon Medicaid program, she evaluated and reported on children’s mental health in Texas.

Dr. Mohr Peterson received her Master’s degree in Anthropology and Doctoral degree in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.


“Health care services work best when they are focused on the people we serve,” Dr. Mohr Peterson said. “I look forward to working with Hawai’i communities to help bring new innovations for better health, better care and lower costs for everyone.”

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, Hawai’i was one of the first states to implement Medicaid expansion. Between September 2013 and April 2014, the net effect on enrollment was a 10 percent increase. At the current time, more than 320,400 residents in Hawai’i receive health care coverage from the Med-QUEST Division.

Since February 2014, Leslie Tawatea held the role of Acting Med-QUEST Administration, while Patti Bazin was Acting Med-QUEST Assistant Administrator.

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