LITTLE ROCK — State Medicaid Director Andy Allison will leave his position June 1 to pursue other opportunities outside state government, the state Department of Human Services said Friday.

Allison, who began serving as director of DHS’ Division of Medical Services and Medicaid director in November 2011, notified DHS Director John Selig on Friday morning of his decision.

Dawn Zekis, Medicaid’s director of Health Care Innovation since April 2012, will serve as interim Medicaid director while DHS conducts a national search for a new director, Selig said.

"Gov. Beebe, John Selig and DHS Deputy Director Janie Huddleston gave me the opportunity to lead the most innovative Medicaid program in the country," Allison stated in a news release. "It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am deeply appreciative. The team I joined and that we have built up at DMS over the past two and a half years is dynamic and strong. I expect to see great things from them in the coming years."

Allison said he valued his experiences working for the state of Arkansas "more than any other time in my career."

Selig praised Allison’s leadership in implementing the state’s Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative, which seeks to move the state’s health care system from a fee-for-services system to one in which health care providers are paid for episodes of care and rewarded for healthy outcomes, and the so-called private option, which uses federal Medicaid money to subsidize private health insurance for low-income Arkansans.

"Andy has done a tremendous job here at a critical time," Selig said. "When we were searching for a Medicaid director, we repeatedly heard that he should be at the top of our list. Andy has a remarkable combination of program knowledge, raw intellect and national clout, and has been masterful in leading our efforts to transform Arkansas’s health system and implement the nationally acclaimed private option. We will miss him."