Thursday, March 20, 2003

Concannon moves on

Published in the Current

Kevin Concannon of Scarborough, formerly Maine’s commissioner of human services, has taken a job at the helm of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

That agency, like the one planned for Maine, combines health and human services and mental health. It also adds juvenile corrections.

“That is similar to the agency that I was in charge of in Oregon” from 1987 to 1995, Concannon said. Last month he had told the Current that he was looking to the private, non-profit sector. He says now that he had a change of heart on the way back from a job interview in Oregon.

“What do I really like the most?” he asked himself. “What I really like is what I’ve been doing on the public side,” he said.

Iowa is different from Maine in many ways, he said. Iowa has 3 million people spread across twice the geographic area as Maine.

“They have 99 counties,” Concannon said.

There are some similarities, however, in terms of the work he has done here. “They want to have an effect on things like prescription drugs, alternatives to nursing homes and Medicaid waivers. And I said, ‘I’m your man,’” Concannon said.

Of further interest, both the governor and lieutenant governor of Iowa are beneficiaries of the state’s human services department. Gov. Tom Vilsack was adopted, and Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson has an autistic child, Concannon said. He expects their experience to translate to strong support for his work.

Concannon expects to be confirmed by the state Senate in mid-April. He will sell his home in Scarborough and move to the Des Moines area, he said. His children, now adults, are still in Maine however, so Concannon and his wife will return to visit, he said.