Douglas names Paul Jarris health commissioner

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(Host) Vermont’s longest serving commissioner has been replaced. Governor Jim Douglas has appointed Doctor Paul Jarris of Shelburne as Health Commissioner to succeed Doctor Jan Carney. Carney had served in the post since 1989.

The selection of Jarris reflects the governor’s emphasis on appointees who have business experience. In addition to his medical degree, Jarris has a master’s degree in business administration. For the last two years, he’s run a consulting firm whose clients include insurers and hospitals. Jarris also served as medical director for CHP, the Community Health Plan of Vermont.

Even though he’s spent his career working for health maintenance organizations, Jarris says his background has prepared him to deal with public health issues:

(Jarris) “The interesting thing is that, as you look at how health care is delivered in a large system, the large pre-paid systems function as, in a sense, a public health organization. We had within CHP Vermont 140,000 members. It was in our interest and our systems were set up to keep those people as healthy as possible, to intervene as early as possible when they had disease and to improve our health. When we sat down, we talked the same language as the Health Department.”

(Host) The Health Department is the final commissioner’s job to be filled in the Douglas administration. Carney was appointed by Governor Madeleine Kunin and also served under Governors Richard Snelling and Howard Dean.

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