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Human Services Secretary David Scrase speaks at a news conference on the pandemic last year.

For a man with not one, not two, but three jobs, Dr. David Scrase doesn’t collect many paychecks.

Scrase essentially does two of the three jobs for free.

Really.

“He’s a true public servant who cares about New Mexicans and their health and well-being,” said Jodi McGinnis Porter, a spokeswoman for the state Human Services Department, where Scrase has served as Cabinet secretary since 2019.

Scrase, 69, who has become one of the most visible faces of state government and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, not only oversees human services but was tapped in July to simultaneously serve as acting secretary of the Department of Health following the resignation of Dr. Tracie Collins — an assignment he accepted without pay.

“Secretary Scrase was offered additional compensation when he accepted the position of acting DOH secretary, which he declined,” Nora Meyers Sackett, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary, wrote in an email.

Scrase said in a statement he and the governor had an understanding a salary increase was unnecessary for him to take on the additional responsibilities.

Scrase, who is paid $158,340 annually, turned down a proposed raise last year, too.



“I am not working for state government for the money,” Scrase wrote in the statement. “When I came to [the Human Services Department] in 2019, my favorite (true) joke was, ‘This is my second 50 percent pay cut in three years.’ It didn’t occur to me to ask for more money and when I was offered a pay raise a year ago, I declined.”

In addition to overseeing two of the largest departments in state government, Scrase, a board-certified internist and geriatrician, continues to see patients at the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he has had a medical practice for six years. He said he could no longer be paid by UNM Hospital when he was appointed human services secretary because the hospital is a major contractor for Medicaid.

“I love my patients and my practice and it is worth doing for free,” Scrase wrote.

The governor said in a statement Thursday that Scrase is among countless public servants who work tirelessly on behalf of New Mexicans.

“He is an integral part of the state’s pandemic response and truly of the state’s health care community as a whole,” Lujan Grisham said. “A dedicated and widely-regarded physician whose patients adore him, he’s a true workhorse in state government — there is no task too small or too large, no obstacle that he is not eager to tackle. Everything he does is motivated by his care for the wellbeing of New Mexicans, and we are deeply grateful to have him as a member of the team.”

Sackett noted the governor “has spoken extemporaneously about her collegial admiration and appreciation for him frequently over the course of the pandemic,” as recently as during a news briefing Wednesday.

Asked whether he was dealing with burnout under the weight of three demanding jobs, Scrase indicated he has a regimented schedule.

“I have exercised, meditated, read and journaled every morning for 640 consecutive days,” he wrote. “I take really good care of myself, read 25-35 books a year, and am not burned out in any way.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(6) comments

Janet Eduardo

Low education standards in NM really showing in these comments.

This man is a stellar public servant. It's too bad a lot of the people of NM don't seem to see that. They are lucky to have someone like Dr Scrase an not someone always looking to line his own pockets. Although to a lot of people these days, that seems to be the definition of success, being able to successfully con people out of a lot of money while giving nothing in return.

John Martinez

Funny Janet how you come to live in this great State despite our "low education standards". These low education standards are the results of democratic majority legislation, and the lousy leaders that are put in these positions, because of the Governors trying to "line their own pockets". Another reason I voted for Trump, he worked for free and wasn't looking to line his own pockets like the rest of them.

Chris Mechels

A loyal servant, to the Governor, not the people. Michelle's doctor, a gerontologist who treated Michelle's mom apparently. No particular talent but loyal. Michelle needs the cover, and it allows her to run the Dept of Health, as she always has. Seems being dismissed from the job by Richardson in 2007 rankles at bit. Still trying to prove her competence, but can't, because she's incompetent, and too stupid to allow competence under her.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Exactly Chris, and this doctor knows nothing about virology, epidemiology, infectious diseases, etc., he is a political appointee. They say he works hard, and so do washing machines.

Peter Komis

Thank you Governor Lujan-Grisham, thank you Dr. Scrase, and thank you Jodi McGinnis Porter!

Mike Johnson

Yes, as the old saying goes, jack of all trades and master of none. He is really overpaid.

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