Governor Jay Nixon has selected the chief medical officer for the Missouri Department of Mental Health to lead the state's Medicaid health care program.
Joe Parks will take over as director of the MO HealthNet Division of the Department of Social Services starting Dec. 16.
He replaces Ian McCaslin, who left that position in May after serving as director since August 2007.
Nixon announced the new Medicaid director Friday.
The MO HealthNet Division oversees a Medicaid program that provides health coverage to about 850,000 lower-income children, custodial parents, disabled residents and seniors.
Nixon has sought to expand the program, but Republican legislative leaders have said they want to improve Missouri's current Medicaid program before considering Democratic proposals to expand eligibility.