Maura Haley Appointed New Secretary of Health and Human Services

Walsh comes to the role after a 13-year run as head of Boston Medical Center — one of the longest-serving hospital CEOs in the state. She ran not only the 514-bed Boston Hospital, which serves a large portion of patients on government insurance, but also the WellSense Health Plan, formerly BMC HealthNet, which serves a large population of MassHealth patients.

“This is an important moment for our state as we continue to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing health disparities, rising health care costs and devastating behavioral health problems,” Walsh said in a statement. averting the crisis.” “Together, we will work to advance racial health equity, address affordability, promote innovative solutions to our health care challenges, and ensure that people live healthier lives.”

It was not clear who would replace her at Boston Medical Center, and Walsh did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The organization recently appointed Dr. Alistair Bell as its president.,

Walsh’s appointment puts him at the helm of the state’s largest single department, which includes more than 12 agencies, two veterans’ homes and the state’s Medicaid program. With a combined budget of more than $27 billion, the department accounts for more than half of state spending, covering everything from children in protective custody to elder cases.

In addition to his experience at Boston Medical Center, Walsh’s background covers a wide spectrum of industry. She previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and has held senior leadership positions at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital Center and Worked on New York City Health and Hospital Corporation.

“This is an opportunity for Kate to realize a capstone and bring her career full circle, using her skills from a long career in academic medicine, biotech, and running an essential hospital that is part of the state’s mission for health.” To be the top policymaker serving marginalized community and human services and overseeing a system of care for those who often face disparities in care and services,” health care industry strategist in the Boston market Ellen Lach Bender said. “Her appointment exemplifies the governor’s vision for moving forward on health care reform.”

Her biography on the BMC website states that she is currently a board member of the American Hospital Association, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s Essential Hospitals, the Pine Street Inn, and Yale University.

Walsh received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in public health from Yale University.

“Kate Walsh is an embodiment of everything our healthcare system strives to be, and Healy is proud to lead EOHHS at this critical time for patients and caregivers,” said Steve Walsh, President and CEO of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is an excellent choice by the Driscoll administration.” Health and Hospital Association. “Kate has always been much more than a hospital leader. She is a tireless community advocate, a health equity champion and a consensus-builder for a complex sector entering a transformative time.

That background will provide a solid foundation as the state continues to deal with a health care sector that is still struggling amid the ongoing pandemic, beset by staff shortages and financial challenges.

Walsh’s appointment also comes at a busy time for HHS, as the state recently launched a new “front door” for behavioral health services as part of mental health care reform.

The industry is also waiting for notice from the federal government on when the federal public health emergency will end, which would prompt MassHealth to confirm eligibility for millions of people who use state insurance.

Additionally, the state is preparing to implement a newly awarded exemption from the federal government. The waiver will allow MassHealth to continue reforms initiated five years ago, which sought to change the reimbursement structure for insurers and providers to focus on quality and equity and emphasize primary care and behavioral health care. It was

Wellsense, the BMC insurer, recently won most of the contracts MassHealth negotiated as part of its Accountable Care program, and Walsh has been rewarded for providing reimbursement based on quality measures not only to his former insurer but also to competing health insurers. have to navigate.

In her role as secretary, Walsh will also sit on the state’s health policy commission, and will have to navigate its relationship with the hospital industry, with the organization’s stated desire to create a price cap for the highest value providers as it seeks to improve health care. wants to interrupt. Increase in care costs.

The appointment largely fell out of Healy’s cabinet, although a position outstanding for veterans’ services remained, as well as the new position of Secretary of Housing, a position he had promised to create during his campaign.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at [email protected] follow him on twitter @ByJessBartlett,

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