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Sebelius Names Office of Health Reform Personnel

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, May 12, 2009

The HHS healthcare reform team is beginning to take shape with the announcement of Office of Health Reform personnel on Monday.

The HHS office will “spearhead the department’s efforts to pass urgently needed health reform this year and coordinate closely with the White House Office of Health Reform.” President Barack Obama created both offices by an Executive Order April 8 in hopes of passing comprehensive healthcare reform in 2009, which is one of Obama’s top priorities.

“The skyrocketing cost of healthcare is crushing families and businesses and we must enact health reform this year,” says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The HHS Office of Health Reform and the White House Office of Health Reform will work in tandem to advance legislation and take immediate actions to cut costs, assure quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans, and guarantee Americans can choose their doctor and their health plan.”

On Monday, Sebelius named a number of staff members:

  • Jeanne Lambrew, PhD, director of the HHS Office of Health Reform, will lead the health reform effort in the HHS office and help the secretary promote the department. She was previously an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and worked on health policy in the Clinton Administration.
  • Michael Hash will serve as a senior advisor, which includes running the inter-agency process for developing specific aspects of health reform legislation consistent with the president's priorities. He will be an assignee at the White House Office of Health Reform and assist in the preparation of administration positions and in communication with the Congress. Prior to his appointment, Hash held senior positions at the Health Care Financing Administration (now known as CMS) and on the staffs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as a private health policy consulting firm.
  • Neera Tanden will work as a senior advisor, developing healthcare policies for HHS and the administration. She is the former domestic policy director for the Obama-Biden campaign and policy director for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and oversaw healthcare work on both campaigns. She has worked in think tanks, in the Senate, and in the Clinton Administration.

Rounding out the new hires for the office Monday were:

  • Linda Douglass, director of communications:
  • Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, director of policy analysis
  • Caya B. Lewis, M.P.H., director of outreach and public health policy
  • Jennifer Cannistra, policy analyst and director of special projects
  • Karen Richardson, outreach coordinator
  • Michael Halle, special assistant

Les Masterson is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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