2021 Health Policy Summer Series Speaker Bios

Panelist Bios
Tuesday, June 1: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST 
Health Policymaking Priorities Now 

Jessica S. Banthin, PhD
Jessica S. Banthin is a senior fellow in the Health Policy Center, where she studies the effects of health insurance reform policies on coverage and costs. Before joining the Urban Institute, she served more than 25 years in the federal government, most recently as deputy assistant director for health at the Congressional Budget Office. During her eight-year term at the Congressional Budget Office, Banthin directed the production of numerous major cost estimates of legislative proposals to modify the Affordable Care Act. Banthin has contributed to Congressional Budget Office reports and written about how reform proposals affect individuals’ and families’ incentives to enroll in coverage, influence employers’ decisions to offer coverage to their employees, and affect insurance market competitiveness. In her recent work, Banthin has written on competition in insurer markets and the accuracy of various data sources used in modeling health reforms. 

Banthin has also conducted significant work on the financial burden of health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs on families, published in scientific journals. She has special expertise in the design of microsimulation models for analyzing health insurance coverage and a deep background in the design and use of household and employer survey data. Banthin’s experience in estimating the effects of health reform on cost and coverage extend back to her service on the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform in 1993. She earned her PhD in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her AB from Harvard University. 

Ellen Montz, PhD
Ellen Montz, PhD, MPAff is the Chief Deputy and Chief Health Economist at Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services. She previously worked on health care and tax policy related to health insurance coverage in the private market and Medicaid for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the White House Domestic Policy Council. She holds a PhD from Harvard University and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas. 

Stuart Portman
Stuart Portman serves as Health Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. In this capacity handles issues related to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the ACA Exchanges. Previously, he served as the Senior Health Care Legislative Assistant and Legislative Correspondent for Senator Orrin Hatch and provided policy details on concepts within CMS, FDA, and NIH’s jurisdiction.  

Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Stuart attended the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University where he focused his coursework on Medicaid, CHIP, and ethical debates within the health care services community. He also worked as a Research Assistant on a project evaluating federal and state investments in health information technology.  

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Stuart attended the University of Denver for his Bachelor degree in Biology and Political Science. He enjoys the thrill of travel, baking cookies and pies, reading/falling asleep in the sun, and discussing policy issues with people holding a diverse array of opinions.  

Audrey Smith 
Audrey serves as the Senior Policy Advisor for health policy for Senator Joe Manchin. Prior to this position, she worked as Executive Director for the Critical Access Hospital (CAH)  Coalition, where she represented small rural hospitals across the United States. 

Audrey has also worked in health policy at both The Joint Commission and Mylan, Inc. where she analyzed legislation and monitored health care policy for hospital accreditation and generic pharmaceuticals. Before going to Mylan, Audrey served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman David B. McKinley (WV-1).  

Audrey received her undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College and her master’s in public policy from George Mason University.  

Tuesday, June 15: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST 
Promoting Housing Stability Through Health Policy

Shira Hollander
Shira Hollander is a senior associate director for payment policy at the American Hospital Association. In this role, Shira develops and advocates for policy positions regarding value-based payment arrangements, social determinants of health and issues related to physician payment including fraud and abuse. Shira also leads the AHA’s advocacy regarding telehealth coverage and payment, and secured several telehealth flexibilities for AHA members during the COVID-19 pandemic. She provides analysis and insight to members and the larger healthcare field regarding federal rules and regulations and regularly represents the AHA at policy forums, meetings with government and other officials, and in multi-stakeholder coalitions.

Prior to joining the AHA, Shira practiced law at Latham & Watkins, LLP, where she specialized in matters concerning Medicare and Medicaid fraud and represented veterans seeking discharge upgrades and TRICARE insurance.

Shira holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was the recipient of the Ellen S. Raphael award, bestowed upon one graduating MPP student who exemplifies academic achievement and public service. Shira also holds a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

Anna Cleveland
Anna works at the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), as a Government Operations Consultant, in the Specialized Services unit in Florida. She is a subject matter expert on the Florida Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Housing Assistance Pilot. Additionally, she is the subject matter expert on a variety of other subjects for the unit. This includes hospice and home health services. Prior to working for AHCA, Anna worked for the Florida Department of Health in Disability Determinations. She worked on Social Security and Medically Needy disability applications. Anna holds an MPA from Florida State University and a BA from Eckerd College.

Tuesday, June 29: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST 
City Policy: Forming Unique Partnerships to Improve Health

Catherine Patterson, MPP
Catherine is the Co-Executive Director of CityHealth. Prior to joining the CityHealth team, Catherine served as the Managing Director for Urban Health and Policy at the de Beaumont Foundation. In that role, Catherine developed, managed, and led all work related to policy interventions that sought to improve the health and wellness of urban residents. Before joining the de Beaumont Foundation, Catherine worked at the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led campaigns to improve children’s dental health across the country. Catherine began her career as an early childhood educator, working directly with children and families. 

Captain Kimberly Elenberg, RN, DNP
CAPT Kimberly Elenberg is the Modeling and Analytics lead for the Department of Defense COVID Task Force. She has a distinguished career in high impact public health roles including her work with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Office of the Chief Medical Officer as the Deputy Director of Population Health and Medical Management, as the Director of Training and Manager of Medical Readiness in the Office of Force Readiness and Deployment, Office of the Surgeon General, and as Director for Biosurveillance and Emergency response at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. CAPT Elenberg is also the recipient of the 2020 G2Xchange Leading for Impact, Women in Leadership Award. 

William Hazel, MD
Bill Hazel exemplifies the gold standard ideals set forth by Dr. Claude Moore as few other professionals associated with the Foundation can. As our Senior Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Hazel brings educational, professional and philanthropic credentials to the organization that are beyond compare. He holds an M.D. degree from Duke University School of Medicine and served his Orthopedic Surgery residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Most recently he worked in the Office of the Provost at George Mason University. 

For eight years, Dr. Hazel was the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources and oversaw eleven state agencies. His past leadership roles also include service as the President of Medical Staff of INOVA Fairfax Hospital and as a past member of Inova’s Board of Trustees and Trustee of the American Medical Association. He has even served as Team Physician for the Washington Redskins and DC United. Dr. Hazel’s commitment to charitable works includes volunteerism near and far, from serving communities in rural Virginia to Bolivia. He is also the author of multiple professional publications. Dr. Hazel’s experience in the medical field, and his lifelong commitment to public health and health education, personify the mission of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation. 

Tuesday, July 13: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST 
Top Priorities for Access and Affordability  

Shawn Martin
Shawn Martin is the executive vice president and chief executive officer designee for the American Academy of Family Physicians. On August 1, 2020, he will become the executive vice president and CEO of the AAFP, succeeding Douglas E. Henley, MD. 

Prior to his current role, he served as the senior vice president, advocacy, practice advancement and policy at the AAFP.  In that role, he provided strategic leadership to the AAFP and directed the public and private sector advocacy efforts of the nation’s largest primary care organization.   

He is nationally recognized for his thoughtful leadership on a range of health care and workforce issues.  While his career portfolio has focused on numerous health care and public policy issues, he is best known for his extensive work on the development and implementation of primary care delivery and payment models.  He is a strategic leader with a proven track-record of accomplishments.   

During his career he has served in leadership roles of several coalitions and partnerships during his career, including a six-year period as chair of the Health Coalition on Liability and Access.  He currently serves on the board of the National Coalition on Health Care and the Coalition for Sustainable RX Pricing.   He was recognized by The Hill as one of the top 10 health care lobbyists in Washington, DC. and is nationally recognized as an influential leader on numerous health care issues. 

A native of Oklahoma, Martin earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and marketing from Phillips University a Masters of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College.   

Jeannette Thornton
Jeanette is the Senior Vice President of Product, Employer, and Commercial Policy at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in Washington, D.C. Over the past 15 years, Jeanette has played a leading role in developing and advancing policy reforms in support of the industry’s top legislative and regulatory priorities.

In her current role, she oversees AHIP policy development covering the commercial market ranging from the individual market (including Exchange implementation and operations), the small group market, employer sponsored health insurance and financial health and wellness coverage. She has extensive experience working with the Administration and federal agencies, Congressional leadership and Committee staff as well as stakeholders on a range of policy issues related to the Affordable Care Act, including technical expertise around regulatory implementation and health plan operations. Before joining AHIP, Jeanette held positions in the Federal government at the Office of Management and Budget and Social Security Administration.

Peter Bach, PhD
Dr. Bach is a physician, epidemiologist, researcher, and healthcare policy expert who studies US health care policy at Memorial Sloan Kettering, is a Senior Scholar at the International Agency for Research on Cancer within the World Health Organization and Chairs the Medicare committee charged with evaluating Coverage Policy.  In 2012, he and other Memorial Sloan Kettering physicians drew attention to the high price of the cancer drug Zaltrap, leading the company to halve its US price. Along with Mark Trusheim, he developed the subscription based “Netflix” model now being used to finance Hep-C treatments in Louisiana and Washington. His work on how cancer drugs are packaged in excessively large containers has led to legislation that is estimated to return more than $1B to Medicare over the next decade. Dr. Bach is a graduate of Harvard College, the University of Minnesota Medical School, and the Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago.  He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and editorials in scientific journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association and has been inducted into the National Academy of Medicine, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American Academy of Physicians, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.   

Tuesday, July 27: 1:00pm-2:00pm EST 
Public Health, Lessons Learned

Bechara Choucair, MD
Bechara Choucair, MD, is responsible for overseeing the national vaccination efforts under the Biden-Harris administration. He has been named White House COVID-19 Vaccinations Coordinator and focuses on coordinating the timely, safe, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations for the U.S. population, in close partnership with relevant federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local authorities. Dr. Choucair also leads the administration’s ambitious effort to administer 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. 

Prior to joining the administration, Dr. Choucair served as senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Choucair oversaw the organization’s efforts focused on addressing the social health of its 12.2 million members and the 68 million people who live in the communities it serves.  This work included the creation of the nation’s largest social health network to meet the housing, food and transportation needs of its members. He also managed Kaiser Permanente’s community health portfolio, including $3.4 billion dedicated to supporting medical financial assistance and charitable care as well as grants and community health initiatives.  

Before his time at Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Choucair was the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health for five years before serving as senior vice president of Safety Net and Community Health at Trinity Health. He has been named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Health Executives in the U.S., one of the Most Influential People in Healthcare and as one of the Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare. 

Reuben Varghese, MD, MPH
Reuben K. Varghese, M.D., M.P.H.,  promotes disease control and prevention and overall community health as chief of the Public Health Division of Arlington County, Virginia. Varghese began his career at a health maintenance organization, where he served as an internist. He served as chief of the Medical Affairs and Surveillance Branch of the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 2004 to 2005. From 2000 to 2002 he was an epidemic intelligence service officer for CDC. While at CDC, he was part of a team sent to New York City to monitor latent health effects caused by 9/11 — an asset to a community such as Arlington, which also was directly affected on 9/11. Prior to his work at USDA, Dr. Varghese was director of the Three Rivers Health District based in Middlesex County, Virginia, from 2002 to 2004. He received his M.D. from Brown University and has an M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. 

Sharon Lamberton, MS
Ms. Lamberton serves as deputy vice president in state government affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a trade association of more than 37 biopharmaceutical companies located in Washington, DC. She provides clinical expertise and policy support and strategy for issues related to the industry, including cost and value of medicines, adherence, prescription drug abuse and the industry’s latest innovations. She works closely with the National Governors Association, Women in Government (an association of state women legislators) and serves on the Board’s Advisory Council for the National Foundation of Women Legislators and on the Corporate Advisory Council for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Previously, Ms. Lamberton worked for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), a large national grassroots seniors’ association. Other work experiences include: the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Congressional office of Senator Chuck Robb, the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where she worked as a Neurology nurse to provide direct patient care to patients from all over the world. A few years ago, Ms. Lamberton worked weekend shifts at a local hospital’s emergency room in Northern Virginia.

Ms. Lamberton attended nursing school at Texas Woman’s University in Houston and served as president of the National Student Nurses’ Association and president of the Texas Nursing Students’ Association. Ms. Lamberton also holds a master’s degree in health systems management from George Mason University.

Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH
Marcus Plescia is chief medical officer of ASTHO. For the past fifteen years, Plescia has served in public health leadership roles at the state, local, and federal levels, including director of chronic disease for the North Carolina Division of Public Heath, director of national cancer control programs at CDC, and county public health director in Charlotte, NC. Prior to this, Plescia spent ten years in academic family medicine, teaching medical students and family medicine residents and providing patient care. In addition, Plescia has remained active in public health research, publishing in medical and public health literature and serving as principle investigator of REACH 2010, a large, CDC-funded health disparities intervention project.