Why does Connecticut particularly suck at public policy? By Connecticut I mean Hartford, and by suck I mean, really flawed, and by public policy I mean anything that has to do with laws, spending, budgets, governing, well you get my drift. Our political flunkies in Hartford suck at creating public policy because they don’t aspire to selecting really smart people to solve complex problems. As evidence, the recent appointments of the SustiNet Health Care Plan board.
First up– the the board we got:
The SustiNet Health Partnership board will be led by State Comptroller Nancy Wyman and State Health Care Advocate Kevin Lembo. The board has until Jan. 1, 2011 to submit a proposal to the legislature for a plan to control costs and increase access to health care.
The board members were appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, who were each required by the law to appoint someone with a specific area of expertise.
–Norma Gyle, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Public Health;
appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell; specialty is nursing/allied health.
–Jeffrey Kramer, UConn School of Business; appointed by House Majority Leader Denise Merrill; specialty is health care economics and policy.
–Paul Grady, Mercer Consulting; appointed by House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero; specialty is actuarial sciences/insurance underwriting.
–Sal Luciano, executive director, Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; appointed by House Speaker Christopher Donovan; specialty is organized labor.
–Joseph McDonagh, independent broker; appointed by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney; specialty is employee health plans for small business.
–Jamie Mooney, Norwalk Hospital; appointed by Senate Minority Leader John McKinney; specialty is health information technology.
–Dr. Bruce Gould, associate dean for primary care at the UConn Health Center; appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams; specialty is primary care medicine.
While the law that created the board calls for a specific process for developing a health plan, it does not address how to pay for the plan. Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the SustiNet bill, but it became law after legislators overrode the veto last month.
Wyman and Lembo also invited the commissioners of the departments of public health, social services, insurance and health care access to participate as ex-officio board members.
Bet you’re feeling all confident at the experience level of that board. And where is Wyman going to fit in the time to lead this crew? Now for the compare and contrast portion. Massachusetts managed to introduce some health care reform, and they’ve put together a nice web site detailing all the stuff they talked about in its formation. Check it out. But here’s their listing of board members:
Leslie Kirwan, ex-officio, chair
Secretary, Executive Office for Administration and Finance
Leslie A. Kirwan joins the Patrick-Murray Administration as Secretary of Administration and Finance with over 23 years of leadership and impact in state, local and transportation finance. She is recognized for partnering with cities and towns in solving difficult municipal finance problems and for her experience in a wide range of Commonwealth policy and management responsibilities. In her most recent job as chief financial officer at the Massachusetts Port Authority, Leslie led the most significant financial recovery among U.S. airports in response to 9/11.
Secretary Kirwan has direct experience with the responsibilities of her new cabinet post, having served as Undersecretary and Chief of Staff of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance from 1995 to 1997. In that role, she assisted the Secretary in a broad range of operational and policy issues; coordinated the state’s revenue optimization effort, which netted $85 million in its first two years; and led A & F’s relations with local government. Prior to joining A & F, she spent over ten years as a manager in the Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services, where she led Division staff in execution of key responsibilities including: overseeing local budget management; local aid analysis and distribution (the “Cherry Sheet”); coordinating state response to local financial emergencies, including developing and securing legislative solutions including imposition of several fiscal control boards; oversight of local assessing and tax administration, enforcement of Proposition 2 ½; supervision of local accounting and cash management practices; and municipal law assistance. Her work with cities and towns received recognition including two awards from the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Secretary Kirwan holds an A.B. from Harvard-Radcliffe and a Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She lives in Arlington with her husband and two teenaged sons.
Nonnie Burnes, ex-officio
Commissioner, Division of Insurance
Commissioner Nonnie Burnes was appointed to head the Massachusetts Division of Insurance in February of 2007 by Governor Deval Patrick. Prior to taking the helm at the Division, Commissioner Burnes was a Justice of the Superior Court for more than a decade.
Commissioner Burnes has a background as a legal advocate and has been a Superior Court Justice since 1996. While on the bench, she served as the chair of both the Gender Equality Advisory Board and the Jury Management Advisory Committee. Prior to her appointment to the Superior Court by Governor William Weld, Commissioner Burnes was an attorney at the firm of Hill & Barlow. In addition to her work on the bench and in private practice, she served as a Commissioner on the State Ethics Commission; a Fellow of the Boston Bar Foundation; the Vice Chair of the Boston Bar Association; and, on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Center for Law and Education. Commissioner Burnes is a member of the visiting committee for Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, the Center for Ethics and the Professions; and, a member of the Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers for Northeastern University.
Commissioner Burnes received a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Northeastern University Law School. In 2004, she received the Citation for Judicial Excellence from the Boston Bar Association.
Tom Dehner, ex-officio
Tom Dehner is Medicaid Director in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As the chief executive of the state agency responsible for administering MassHealth, the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program, Tom oversees an $8 billion budget and a workforce of over 700. Tom provides strategic policy direction, negotiates with federal and state regulators, directs clinical policy, and supervises plan operations for a health insurance program that covers over 1 million members.
Tom came to MassHealth in 2003 as Chief of Staff of the Division of Medical Assistance. In February 2004, as the administration of Medicaid was elevated to EOHHS as a part of a comprehensive reorganization of Health and Human Services agencies, Tom was named Deputy Medicaid Director. In that role, Tom worked closely with the Commonwealth’s Medicaid Director and the Secretary of EOHHS to coordinate the day-to-day management of the MassHealth program, and was specifically responsible for the management of MassHealth’s operational unit, which enrolls eligible individuals, pays provider claims, and provides customer service to MassHealth members. Tom’s other responsibilities included directing the Office of Clinical Affairs and the MassHealth Behavioral Health Unit, overseeing Medicaid Revenue Programs in state and local public agencies, and supervising MassHealth’s legislative and media relations strategies.
Before coming to work at MassHealth, Tom served as Counsel to the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee, where he supervised legislative policy on health care and insurance matters. Tom has a law degree from Northeastern University.
Ian Duncan, FSA FIA FCIA MAAA
President, Solucia Inc.
Mr. Duncan is founder and president of Solucia Inc., a Hartford, CT-based provider of actuarial and consulting services to the healthcare financing industry. Solucia focuses on medical management, predictive modeling and outcomes services to health insurers, employers and state Medicaid plans. He has 30 years of experience in healthcare and insurance product design, management, financing, pricing, and delivery.
Mr. Duncan holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Natal University and a post-graduate degree in economics from Balliol College, Oxford. He is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, the Institute of Actuaries (London), the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He serves as chair of the Society of Actuaries’ Healthcare External Relations committee. He is a frequent speaker at industry events, and is the author of a number of papers and books. He has twice won the Disease Management Association of America’s prize for the best published paper on disease management, and was the recipient in 2005 of the Society of Actuaries President’s award for pioneering achievement in health actuarial science. He also serves on the board of a New York health insurance company.
Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He is also the Director of the Program on Children at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a Research Associate. He is a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Health Economics.
Dr. Gruber received his B.S. in Economics from MIT, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. He has received an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a FIRST award from the National Institute on Aging, and the Kenneth Arrow Award for the Best Paper in Health Economics in 1994. He was also one of 15 scientists nationwide to receive the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from the National Science Foundation in 1995. During the 1997-1998 academic year, Dr. Gruber was on leave as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department. Dr. Gruber was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2005, and in 2006 he received the American Society of Health Economists Inaugural Medal for the best health economist in the nation aged 40 and under.
Dr. Gruber’s research focuses on the areas of public finance and health economics. He has published more than 100 research articles, has edited four research volumes, and is the author of Public Finance and Public Policy, a leading undergraduate text.
President and CEO, Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Richard C. Lord is President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (A.I.M.). A.I.M. is an employer service organization of more than 7,600 member companies. Mr. Lord joined A.I.M. in 1991 and served as Executive Vice President for Legislative Policy where he was responsible for A.I.M.’s public policy analysis and legislative efforts on health care, economic development, taxation, worker’s compensation and other areas of special interest to employers in the Commonwealth.
Prior to joining A.I.M., Mr. Lord served as Chief of Staff for the Committee on Ways and Means of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The Committee is responsible for all legislation involving state funds and revenues, including the Commonwealth’s annual budget and all tax related matters. Mr. Lord was employed by the Committee for six years, serving as the Budget Director before being promoted to the Chief of Staff position.
Before entering public service, Mr. Lord also worked in financial positions at General Electric Company and McCormack and Dodge, a Massachusetts-based software company. He is a native of North Adams, Massachusetts and a 1977 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Psychology.
Mr. Lord is a member of several boards, including Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, the Massachusetts E-Health Collaborative, the Associates Program at Northeastern University, the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance Advisory Committee, the Early Education for All Advisory Committee, the Children’s Trust Fund, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Advisory Panel, and the Massachusetts Healthcare Purchasers Group. He is also chair the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute.
Mr. Lord resides in Peabody, Massachusetts.
Executive Director, Massachusetts Coalition of Taft-Hartley Funds
Louis F. Malzone is the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition of Taft-Hartley Funds. In that position, he is responsible for the coordination of cooperative purchasing of health care products and legislative action on health care issues.
Mr. Malzone also serves as executive director of the Health and Welfare Trust Fund IUOE Local 877 (MA), Local 70 (MN) and SEIU Local 615/888. In that capacity he is responsible for all the benefit plans including life, AD&D, medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability insurance, as well as a defined contribution and a defined benefit pension fund. Mr. Malzone also serves as treasurer of the National Labor Alliance of Health Care Coalitions. His past experience includes the human resource management of a $100 million plus multinational manufacturer.
Mr. Malzone earned his degree from Northeastern University.
Dolores Mitchell, ex-officio
Executive Director, Group Insurance Commission
Dolores Mitchell is the Executive Director of the Group Insurance Commission, he agency that provides life, health, disability and dental and vision services to 265,000 State employees, retirees and their dependents. She has been in that position since 1987, serving in the administrations of Governors Dukakis, Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney, and now Governor Patrick.
Mrs. Mitchell is a member of a number of professional and community organizations, including the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium, of which she is a Director, the Greater Boston Big Sister Association, of which she is Board President, the Leapfrog Group, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, the Massachusetts Health Council, the Business Advisory Group of the E-Health Initiative, of which she is Co-Chair, and the E-Health Collaborative of which she is a Director. Most recently, she is a member of the governing board of the new Massachusetts health reform law, the Connector Authority, and its companion organization, the Quality and Cost Council and was recently elected to the board of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
Mrs. Mitchell is a frequent speaker on health care, politics, women’s career issues, and related subjects.
Senior Lecturer on Health Policy and Associate Dean for Educational Programs, Harvard School of Public Health.
Nancy Turnbull is a senior lecturer in the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Associate Dean for Educational Programs at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research interests include health insurance regulation, health care access, consumer participation in managed care plans, and international applications of managed care.
Before joining the Harvard School of Public Health, Nancy worked for almost ten years for the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, where she was First Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner for Health Policy. She has also served as the president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
Nancy is on the board of a number of state health policy organizations, including the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, Commonwealth Care Alliance, and the Massachusetts Health Council.
Assistant Division Director, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Celia Wcislo has worked to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare to Boston’s low-income and underserved neighborhoods for more than 30 years. Serving as president of a local healthcare workers union, she has also worked with healthcare providers to develop innovative job training and education programs, and raised industry working standards for thousands of hospital, nursing home, and homecare workers throughout the Commonwealth.
Ms. Wcislo currently serves as the Assistant Division Director of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a union of over 300,000 healthcare workers. 1199SEIU represents nurses, technicians and other caregivers in every facet of the hospital, nursing home and homecare industries in Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington D.C. and New York. The mission of 1199SEIU is to achieve affordable, quality healthcare for all.
Ms. Wcislo served on the Governor’s Health Care Task Force under both Governor Weld and Governor Swift. She was also a member of the Attorney General’s advisory panel during the Harvard Community Health Plan trusteeship, and the Mayor’s Commission overseeing the merger of BostonCity Hospital and University Hospital.
A founding member of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Ms. Wcislo is a frequent lecturer on labor-management partnerships, improving access to healthcare for underserved and immigrant populations, and the importance of workforce development within the healthcare industry.
Ms. Wcislo is a member of the Boston Public Health Commission and is an active leader in the FirstParish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. She holds a B.S. in Labor Studies from U-Mass/Boston and is a graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program.
Jon Kingsdale, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority
Jon Kingsdale is the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, an independent authority established under Massachusetts’ landmark health reform legislation of 2006, to promote coverage of the uninsured. He works with a broadly representative Board of Directors to develop key elements of the health care financing policy in Massachusetts, develop and implement new programs, and build a capable organization.
As a senior executive at the Tufts Health Plans for almost twenty years, he was responsible for strategic planning, product development, public affairs and government relations. He led major product initiatives including the development of various new HMO benefits for the group market (including tiered-network HMO and POS plans), New England’s largest Medicare + Choice HMO, and consumer-directed health plans.
His work experience also includes executive roles in strategic planning and reimbursement at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, research on hospital finances at the Harvard School of Public Health, policy issues consulting in Washington, D.C., and reporting for Forbes Magazine.
He received a doctorate in economic history from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health.
Now which team would you like crafting public policy on health care reform? One that has someone who has extensive experience in municipal finance, law at the judgeship level, medicaid bureaucracy, insurance product modeling, economics, public policy analysis, and the usual union, public policy and policy writing stuff. Or the team that not a single person who has crafted public policy in anything? And let’s not forget the fact that this plan lacks the oh so important detail of how we are going to pay for it. Call me elitist for preferring people who can be googled for their footprints in public policy rather than a team that has none.
”We got elected with the Reagan landslide and swept out with the O’Neill bloodbath” said Norma Gyle, a Republican from New Fairfield who was elected to represent the 108th district in 1984.
Ms. Gyle, who is now deputy commissioner of public health, met Ms. Rell at a campaign committee meeting held by the House Republicans before the election. There they learned the basics of campaigning: door-to-door etiquette, talking to the press, giving speeches, placing advertisements. The two women stuck together after they both won seats in the House, carpooling to Hartford and sharing a room on trips.
”We were always talked about as ‘the two blondes’,” Ms. Gyle said. ”She would get called Norma and I would get called Jodi.”
Like playful twins, ”the two blondes” sometimes used their similarities to mischievous ends. Early on in her political career, Ms. Rell had pushed to fix Route 7, which runs through Brookfield. Meanwhile, Ms. Gyle, a registered nurse, was attempting to reform the process of donating blood.
Once, when Ms. Gyle was mistakenly approached about fixing Route 7, Ms. Rell’s issue, she decided to play along.
”I said ‘I’m going to get Route 7 done, or my name is not Jodi Rell’,” Ms. Gyle said.
A funny line. But she was about to be one-upped.
Ms. Rell was later mistaken for Ms. Gyle and asked how ”her blood bill” was going.
”She said, ‘It’s going fine, now that Jodi Rell is on board’,” Ms. Gyle recalled.