Sebelius staffs new healthcare reform office

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Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Image Source: www.governor.ks.gov

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius has appointed personnel for the newly created Office of Health Reform, which will spearhead the department's efforts to pass health reform this year and coordinate closely with the White House Office of Health Reform.

Both offices were created by an April 8 executive order.

"The skyrocketing cost of healthcare is crushing families and businesses and we must enact health reform this year," Sebelius said. "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."

The following staff members have been appointed:

  • Jeanne Lambrew, PhD, director of the HHS Office of Health Reform: Lambrew will help the Secretary to marshal the experience and assets of the department. Lambrew 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, senior adviser: Hash will run 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 CMS) and on the staffs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as a private health policy consulting firm.
  • Neera Tanden, senior adviser: Tanden will work on developing healthcare policies for the 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 health care work on both campaigns. She has worked at think tanks, in the Senate and in the Clinton Administration.
  • Linda Douglass, director of communications: Douglass will work as an assignee at the White House Office of Reform, coordinating communications. Before joining the administration, Douglass was a traveling spokesperson for President Obama's 2008 campaign and was chief spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009. She spent most of her career as a journalist, most recently as a managing editor for National Journal and prior to that as chief Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC News.
  • Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, director of policy analysis: Seshamani will coordinate the quantitative and qualitative analyses on health reform conducted throughout HHS. Before joining the Administration, Seshamani was a resident physician in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Caya B. Lewis, MPH, director of outreach and public health policy: Lewis will coordinate HHS outreach and interaction with stakeholders on health reform. She will also advise the Office on prevention and public health policy. Before joining the Administration Lewis was the deputy staff director for health for the Senate HELP committee under the chairmanship of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
  • Jennifer Cannistra, policy analyst and director of special projects: Cannistra will work as an assignee at the White House and will lead special projects undertaken by the office that require close coordination with the White House. Previously, Cannistra served as the Pennsylvania State policy director for the Obama campaign.
  • Karen Richardson, outreach coordinator: Richardson will be responsible for conducting outreach to stakeholders on behalf of HHS, as an assignee at the White House Office and as it relates to advancing the President's agenda for health reform. She was previously the policy director at the Democratic National Committee and policy director of Obama for America in Iowa, and several other states throughout the Presidential primary.
  • Michael Halle, special assistant: Halle will be responsible for coordinating office projects and activities as well as providing research assistance. He worked for the Presidential Inaugural Committee and Obama for America, contributing to field operations in Iowa and North Carolina.