Shumlin appoints health care team
Dec. 13, 2010
Montpelier, Vt., - Governor-elect Shumlin announced today several appointments that will make up his health care reform team. Steve Kimbell will assume the role of Commissioner of BISHCA, Harry Chen will become the newly appointed Commissioner of the Department of Health, Susan Besio will remain in her role as Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access and Anya Rader Wallack will lead the health care reform efforts as Special Assistant to the Governor.
“I pledged during the campaign to work for a single payer system that provides all Vermonters with affordable, quality health care. Vermonters can no longer afford to pay a million dollars more a day for health care. We are bankrupting our small businesses and the middle class” said Shumlin. “A single payer system is not only the right thing to do, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that we put Vermont on a fiscally sustainable path. This is a complex undertaking. It will require careful planning at the state level, and pushing the limits of laws and regulations at the federal level. I have put together my health care dream team. All of the members of this team have the experience, skills and knowledge of both Vermont and Washington D.C. that is necessary to get the job done.”
Anya Rader Wallack is President of Arrowhead Health Analytics. A native Vermonter, Anya has a deep knowledge of state health policy, including Medicaid policy and the effect of national health reform on states. She established Arrowhead after serving as interim President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation (BCBSMAF) and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute (MMPI). Anya has served as a consultant to state governments and multi-state organizations for most of the past decade.
For the past two years she has been deeply engaged in Massachusetts health care reform through her service at MMPI and BCBSMAF. Anya served from 1991-1994 as Policy Director and then Deputy Chief of Staff for Vermont Governor Howard Dean, M.D. In that capacity she coordinated efforts to pass and implement two major health reform initiatives and served as the governor’s liaison to the Agency of Human Services and BISHCA. From 1995-1998 Anya ran the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, a quasi-governmental agency that specializes in quality measurement and improvement at the state level. Anya earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. in social policy from Brandeis University’s Heller School.As Special Assistant to the Governor on Health Care, Anya’s salary will be approximately $125,000.
“Implementing a system where all Vermonters have access to quality, affordable health care and where health care is no longer the responsibility of the employer is going to be very hard work,” said Shumlin. “Numerous agencies and departments will need to work together toward this goal and Anya will lead this effort from my office. Anya has had the frustration of seeing health care reform efforts falter in both Vermont and Massachusetts and has the commitment, skills and experience to now get it done.”
Steve Kimbell, the Commissioner-designee for BISCHA has been involved in public policy issues in Vermont since 1973. He was born and raised in Illinois, attending public schools and the University of Illinois. He earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and spent three years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. In 1973, he moved to Vermont. He worked as a staff attorney for Vermont Legal Aid for five years, then started his own law practice/lobbying business. In 1987, he joined with Bob Sherman to create the public affairs firm now known as Kimbell Sherman Ellis. He retired from the firm and from the affiliated law firm of Kimbell Storrow Buckley Hughes on July 1, 2010. Kimbell managed statewide campaigns for former governor Madeleine Kunin in 1978 and 1982 and served as state planning director from 1984 to 1985. Kimbell’s salary will be approximately $127,000 as Commissioner of BISCHA.
"The excellent health care providers that serve Vermonters and the entities that now operate the claims payment systems will be full partners as we take the next steps in health care reform,” said Shumlin. “Steve Kimbell and the other members of our health care team will be working closely with them to achieve our goals. The banking, securities, captive insurance and traditional insurance companies regulated by BISHCA are important job creators for Vermont. With Steve’s leadership skills and experience they can expect a predictable, consistent and collaborative approach to both regulation and reform. I am deeply grateful to Steve for coming out of retirement and taking on this challenge.”
Dr. Harry Chen, the Commissioner-designee of Vermont’s Health Department has been an emergency physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center for over twenty years. He earned his medical degree at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, serving as Chief Resident. He is also on the clinical faculty at the University of Vermont School of Medicine. From 2004-2008, Dr. Chen served in the Vermont House of Representatives; during his final term he was Vice Chair of the Health Care Committee. In 2008, Dr. Chen received the Vermont State Medical Society Physician Award for Community Service. He has served on numerous statewide boards addressing health care and medical issues, including the Vermont Board of Medical Practice. Dr. Chen has spoken on the issue of health care reform nationally and regionally, including presentations to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and the New England Medical Society Leadership Conference. Dr. Chen’s salary will be approximately $115,000.
“Harry’s experience as a physician in our emergency rooms has given him the understanding of the challenges facing both Vermonters and our health care providers. In addition, his time served in the legislature working towards health care reform will be invaluable as he now assumes the role of Health Care Commissioner,” said Shumlin. “In this role, Harry will both oversee the public’s health and be an integral member of my health care reform team.”
Susan Besio will remain in her current role, serving as the Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) – the State of Vermont office responsible for the management of Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and other publicly-funded health insurance programs in Vermont. Prior to her current position, Dr. Besio served Vermont in a number of leadership capacities, including Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Developmental & Mental Health Services from 1996 to 2004, and as Director of Planning and Operations for the Vermont Agency of Human Services from 2004 to 2006. She was one of the architects of Vermont’s Global Commitment to Health Medicaid 1115 Demonstration Waiver, which provides the state with financial and programmatic flexibility to help Vermont maintain its broad public health care coverage and provide more effective services. Dr. Besio received her undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta, earned a master’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University and received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Vermont. Her salary will remain at $100,714.
“Susan has done an incredible job administering our publicly-funded health insurance programs in Vermont,” said Shumlin. “I am delighted that she is willing to continue in this role as her wealth of experience and knowledge regarding Vermont’s health care system will be critical as we move towards a single payer system.”