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Tom Arnold replaces Holly Benson as AHCA chief

Tom Arnold, a career public servant and Medicaid expert, was named Wednesday as the state's new secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, which manages Florida's massive Medicaid program. Arnold, 60, who has been the agency's chief of staff, replaces Holly Benson.

In appointing Benson, Gov. Charlie Crist said: "Tom's extensive knowledge of managing Florida's Medicaid program is especially important as our nation's discussion of health care moves forward. With 30 years of experience with Florida's health and human services programs, Tom has the expertise we need at this critical time."

Arnold, a former Marine with a take-the-hill sense of determination, was former Gov. Jeb Bush's point man on a major overhaul of Florida's Medicaid program. He was state Medicaid director at AHCA from 2004 to 2007 and was deputy state health officer in 2008, deputy secretary from 2003 to 2004 and director of administration from 1998 to 2003. He has an accounting degree from Florida State.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to put my years of service to work as head of Florida’s Medicaid agency," Arnold said. "I look forward to addressing the challenges and opportunities that lie before us."

-- Steve Bousquet