Medicaid Who’s Who Interview: Alison Croke

Alison Croke is President and CEO of Wood River Health Services. Check out her LinkedIn profile HERE.

Which segment of the industry are you currently involved?

I currently serve as the President & CEO of a federally qualified health center in Rhode Island.  We provide medical, dental, behavioral health, case management and other support services to our patients, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.  We have many Medicaid patients, but we also have patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

How many years have you been in the Medicaid industry?

I have been in the Medicaid industry for 20 years.

What is your focus/passion? (Industry related or not)

I grew up attending an all girl Catholic college preparatory academy run by the Sisters of Mercy.   The mercy mission instilled a passion for social justice, the importance of giving back to your community, and the value of women’s leadership.  I enjoy mentoring young women who are interested in health care administration, and I’m lucky to work at an organization whose mission is to improve their local community.

My other passion would be for all New England sports teams, with the Patriots at the top of the list.

What is the top item on your “bucket list?”

I don’t have one particular item on my bucket list -and I have no desire to jump out of an airplane.  I would love to travel more and see some of the beautiful cities in Europe like Prague.  And if I happen to meet Queen Elizabeth somewhere along the way, that would be great.  Also, would love to attend certain sporting events once- a Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, etc.

What do you enjoy doing most with your personal time?

I love to play with my dogs and take them running.  I also enjoy watching Patriots games.

Who is your favorite historical figure and why?

Queen Elizabeth I is fascinating to me.  She led her country through a historical period where intolerance was commonplace and was able to demonstrate that tolerance and acceptance was the better path.  She allowed England to flourish and become a place where authors and playwrights could thrive, and also position the country for the future position as a super power and global leader.  Without her bravery and determination, we would not have classics like Shakespeare and Marlowe.

What is your favorite junk food?

This is a tough one.  It’s hard for me to resist anything chocolate.   But I also sometimes splurge on movie theater popcorn with butter.  I always feel guilty after though.

Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

When I worked for RI Medicaid, we built many new managed care programs that expanded access to care for members.  I worked on a team that created the RIte Smiles program – a dental managed care program for kids.  By contracting with a managed care plan, the state was able to not only raise rates for providers, but improve the quality of dental care kids received, and create a much larger network of dentists that would treat children on Medicaid.

For what one thing do you wish you could get a mulligan?

I do not regret any of the career choices I’ve made in the last 20 years, as they have led me to where I am today.  I am sure that as a young professional just out of graduate school I made some naive mistakes and misjudgments.  I have many people to thank for mentoring me through those early years and being very honest with their feedback.  Without their help, I would never have made it!  I have learned to be much more humble in my professional interactions.  Most people do not care what your title is -they care that you are committed to your work and follow through on your word.

What are the top 1-3 issues that you think will be important in Medicaid during the next 6 months?

Now that the Congress does not consist of one majority party, I believe the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA will not receive much traction.   However, state budgets, especially in our state, continue to be stretched by health care expenditures, often making Medicaid programs a target for budget cuts.  I would consider the aging population, the opioid crisis, and better access to mental health treatment are the top 3 issues in the coming months.