Executive director of state Health Services Cost Review Commission resigns

The executive director of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission has submitted his resignation, adding to the list of vacancies at the agency that sets the prices for treatment at hospitals throughout the state.

Robert Murray announced Friday that he would be leaving effective July 22. Frederick W. Puddester stepped down as the commission’s chairman last month.

Murray said in a letter announcing his resignation that the upheaval at the commission was not why he decided to leave.

“I know the timing of this resignation is not ideal given the imminent changes to the composition of the Commission,” Murray wrote in a letter announcing his decision. “This resignation is in no way related to those circumstances. Rather, for personal and financial reasons I feel it is appropriate for me to now transition to a new phase in my professional career.”

Murray was lauded for his achievements during his tenure with the state agency.

“[Murray] has provided leadership and intellectual heft that have helped drive the important innovations and concrete accomplishments within the rate setting system for almost two decades,” commission vice chairman Kevin J. Sexton wrote in a letter to HSCRC staff. “Those accomplishments have made Maryland unique nationally in a positive way.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s spokeswoman, Raquel Gillory, said: “We appreciate Mr. Murray’s service and he has made great contributions throughout the years he’s been part of the commission.”

There was no word Friday about a plan to replace Murray. Stephen Ports, the commission’s principal deputy director, said the state will focus on filling the open commissioner positions before addressing the executive director job.

“We serve at the pleasure of the commission,” Ports said. “It’s likely that the succession plan will occur once we get a full commission in place.”

Puddester stepped down as chairman June 1 while the commission already had one vacancy. In addition, Sexton is at the end of his term. Commissioners can serve up to two four-year appointments and can also stay on until a replacement is named.

In his letter, Murray said he was optimistic the changes would be made quickly and the commission would be back on track.

“I know with the new Commission leadership, the stewardship of the HSCRC will be in experienced and able hands,” Murray wrote.

Sexton, who is also president and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, acknowledged the impact the departures have likely had on morale in recent months.

“It is in that spirit that I ask, on behalf of the State, and all of the constituencies of the rate setting process, especially the public, that you continue your great work in the weeks and months ahead,” he wrote. “There is no denying the discomfort of change but we are counting on you to maintain the steadfastness of purpose and high quality of work that are your trademarks.”