The head of TennCare for the past two and a half years said Monday she is leaving her job in mid January when Gov.-elect Bill Lee takes office.

Dr. Wendy Long, who has worked in Tennessee state government for 30 years, including 14 years as a TennCare manager and director, is taking a job as director of health for the Metropolitan Board of Health of Nashville and Davidson County, pending contract approval by the Metropolitan Council.

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Wendy Long

TennCare directors through the years

In 24 years, TennCare has had 10 directors:

› Manny Martins

› Rusty Siebert

› Theresa Lindley

› Brian Lapps

› John Tighe

› Mark Reynolds

› Manny Martins

› J.D. Hickey

› Darin Gordon

› Wendy Long

Long briefly served as interim director of TennCare in 1998 and was later appointed director again by Gov. Bill Haslam in the spring of 2016. She also served as deputy commissioner of Health Care Finance and Administration and previously as chief medical officer for Tenncare.

Long was the 10th director of TennCare, which the state created in 1994 as the nation's first Medicaid managed care program.

TennCare provides health care for approximately 1.3 million Tennesseans and operates with an annual budget of approximately $12 billion, including more than $7.2 billion of federal funds. TennCare is the largest budgeted state agency in Tennessee and pays for health care through managed care organizations for primarily for low-income pregnant women, children and individuals who are elderly or have a disability.

TennCare covers approximately 20 percent of the state's population, 50 percent of the state's births, and 50 percent of the state's children.

"In a time when health care is constantly changing and health care costs are on the rise, Dr. Long and her team have maintained one of the lowest Medicaid cost trends in the nation," Haslam said in an announcement of her decision to leave state government. "Wendy has a passion for the work she does and that is evident in her dedication to improving the health care system in our state."

Haslam said TennCare has been recognized nationally for its innovation and success in utilizing a managed care model while also implementing payment and delivery system reform.

"While I am eager to join Metro Government in my new role as director of health, I know that the work of TennCare will continue to provide high-quality, cost effective care to Tennesseans," Long said in a statement.

Long will continue as the director of TennCare through mid-January and her successor will be appointed by Lee, who was elected governor last month.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340.