- The US spends more than $3.5 trillion on healthcare every year.
- Washington sets many of the rules and laws that shape the healthcare industry and determine which industry players profit.
- Business Insider selected 34 healthcare power players shaping healthcare policy and legislation in DC.
- The list includes doctors, CEOs, lobbyists, and lawyers who have made significant contributions to healthcare policy, which ultimately affects every American.
- Read on to see the full list of power players.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Meet the top people shaping healthcare politics and policy in Washington.
For the first time, Business Insider called for nominations to create a list of DC healthcare power players.
The US spends more than $3.5 trillion on healthcare every year, and Washington sets many of the rules and laws that shape the healthcare industry and determine which industry players profit.
Plus, healthcare is taking center stage in the coming presidential election, from Democrats debating Medicare for All to bipartisan scrutiny of drug pricing. The need to understand who shapes US healthcare policies has become increasingly important.
This list features people making and shaping healthcare legislation and regulation in DC, from K Street to the Capitol and beyond. The 34 people on the list, hail from both sides of the political aisle, and include doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and lobbyists. These individuals have made significant contributions to healthcare policy, which affects every American.
Read on to meet the full list of healthcare power players. The list is arranged alphabetically.
Jane Adams is the vice president of federal government affairs and Canada at Johnson & Johnson, where she manages a team of DC-based federal lobbyists as well as the Canada government affairs team.
Adams is responsible for policy initiatives, including innovation, tax, trade, veterans’ issues, corporate responsibility, and branding with federal policymakers.
Adams has worked for more than 30 years in public health and biomedical research policy as well as in patient advocacy and public affairs. She has led efforts on behalf of the medical technology industry and the US healthcare community in roles at Medtronic, the type 1 diabetes advocacy group JDRF, and the National Association for Biomedical Research.
Adams led J&J efforts on legislation, including the Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act, 21st Century Cures, and drug and device user fee-reform packages and 2017’s tax-cut bill.
Todd Askew was recently named the senior vice president of advocacy at the American Medical Association (AMA) overseeing all legislative, regulatory and health policy issues at the biggest lobbying group for doctors.
Previously, Askew served as the director of congressional affairs for more than 13 years at the AMA.
Before joining the AMA, Askew served as a legislative aide for the American Academy of Pediatrics Department of Federal Affairs. In this role, he worked on healthcare financing and public health, including the 1997 enactment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Marissa Barrera is an active voice on Medicare for All legislation and works directly in the Capitol. She’s worked on Medicare for All and prescription drug price legislation for Budget Committee Ranking Member Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Barrera handles the healthcare portfolio for Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. She ensures that healthcare legislation considered by the Senate complies with budget laws and offers technical assistance to members of the caucus.
Bonnie Castillo is the executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union and professional association of registered nurses, with 150,000 members. She is also executive director for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.
Under Castillo’s leadership California passed legislation backed by her group on healthcare workplace violence prevention, safe patient lifting, and infectious-disease protections.
Casatillo has also overseen the advancement of federal legislation on nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and healthcare workplace violence protections. The union has also been active in supporting Medicare for All.
Lauren Conaboy is the vice president of national policy at Centerstone, a nonprofit that provides mental-health and addiction-treatment services. Conaboy advocates for policies to help people get these kinds of services.
Conaboy influenced several key provisions in the SUPPORT Act, a bill passed in October 2018, to combat the opioid crisis. She is leading a coalition of more than 40 behavioral-health organizations working with Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) to secure passage of The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, a bill to create a special phone number for mental-health crises and suicide prevention.
Earlier in her career, she ran public policy and advocacy campaigns for organizations like Sierra Club and The Center for Victims of Torture, according to her profile on LinkedIn.
Ceci Connolly is the president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) which represents health insurers that work closely with physicians to care for patients. ACHP’s members provide insurance to about 22 million Americans across 34 states and the District of Columbia.
Connolly collects data and stories from across the US and translates them into digestible information for decision makers on topics ranging from Medicare Advantage to prescription drug costs to price transparency.
Before her work at ACHP, Connolly was a national correspondent for 13 years at The Washington Post and worked at the McKinsey Center for Health Reform and the consulting firm PwC’s Health Research Institute. She is a founding member of Women of Impact for Healthcare, which aims to put more women in healthcare leadership roles.
Nicole Cooper is the vice president of social responsibility at UnitedHealthcare, the biggest US health insurer.
Cooper leads national philanthropic grant-making and employee volunteer. The program focus on expanding access to care and on social determinants of health for underserved communities. Her key areas of focus include food insecurity, social isolation, homelessness, and other social needs.
Before joining UnitedHealth, Cooper was part of the US Department of Health and Human Services team responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.
Sarah Dash is the CEO and president of The Alliance for Health Policy, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group dedicated to helping policymakers better understand health policy.
Dash joined in 2014 and became president and CEO in 2017. She previously worked as an aide to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Dash was also a member of the research faculty at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. Her research focused on state insurance implementation and the intersection of public and private health insurance with delivery system reforms.
Matthew Eyles has spent over two decades working in healthcare, starting out in government and later moving into the private sector. As president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Eyles runs the main advocacy group for the health insurance industry as it contending with political threats on the left and right.
Eyles joined AHIP in 2015. Previously, he worked at big healthcare companies like Wyeth and Coventry in roles including public policy, corporate communications, and government affairs.
At AHIP, Eyles has worked on addressing the social factors that shape healthcare through programs like Project Link. He’s also been involved in the healthcare reform debate in Washington as well as efforts to lower the price of prescription drugs.
Marie Fishpaw is the director of domestic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, a politically conservative research and educational institution. She leads the development of healthcare and welfare policy at Heritage.
Fishpaw has previously worked in the White House and on Capitol Hill. She served as the deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney in the White House and as a senior staff member in the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee.
She’s helped conservatives craft healthcare reforms with the objective of lowering healthcare costs and increasing choices. She is involved with the Health Policy Consensus Group, which includes more than 100 conservative leaders and put out the Health Care Choices Proposal as an alternative to the ACA.
James Gelfand is the senior vice president of health policy at ERIC, which helps America’s largest employers stay ahead of employee benefit policy. ERIC (the ERISA Industry Committee) lobbies on behalf of members to shape national and state benefit policies. Issues he’s focused on include employer-sponsored health plans.
He previously worked in a similar role at March of Dimes Foundation and has worked as a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce. Gelfand worked for four years on Capitol Hill, serving as counsel to former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).
James C. Greenwood
James C. Greenwood is the president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) in Washington, DC. BIO lobbies on behalf of biotech companies in industries, including healthcare and agriculture, and has over a thousand members.
Before BIO, Greenwood was a Republican politician representing Pennsylvania’s Eighth District in the US House of Representative (1993-2005). During his time in Congress, he was a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles some healthcare matters.
Joe Grogan is the director of President Donald Trump’s domestic policy council, where he has carved out a realm of influence within the administration’s efforts to reform drug prices.
Grogan has advanced from head of federal affairs for Gilead Sciences to a top job in the White House. Within the Trump administration, Grogan advocated for an international price index model that would tie American drug prices to their foreign competitors — likely making them cheaper — and pushed for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, according to a profile in Stat News.
Earlier in his career, Grogan worked at the FDA as a senior policy adviser and then moved into the private sector to counsel investors on FDA regulations.
Justine Handelman has more than 25 years of experience providing expertise for healthcare policy legislation and reform. She is the senior vice president of the Office of Policy and Representation for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which represents companies that provide health insurance for more than 100 million people in the US.
Handelman oversees BCBSA’s lobbying and policy-development activities in Washington. During her tenure, she developed policy positions that have been incorporated in legislation on key issues like the Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act, legislation to prevent opioid use, and legislation to address mental-health parity.
Jonathan Heafitz is the vice president of federal affairs for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the trade group for pharmacy benefit managers. He helps the companies, sometimes derided as middlemen who don’t add value, navigate Washington policymaking.
He has represented association and industry interests on legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act, and other healthcare initiatives.
Heafitz has worked at PCMA for more than a decade. Before that, he worked for several lawmakers, including a stint as deputy legislative director to former Sen. Mark Dayton.
Ann Hwang, MD, is the director of the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst, which advocates for affordable healthcare for people across the US. The organization provides policy analysts, lawyers, and community organizers to national organizations.
Hwang leads the organization’s efforts to create greater transparency for consumers to make informed decisions about their healthcare needs.
Before her role at Community Catalyst, Hwang was the director of healthcare policy at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, working on healthcare initiatives like the Affordable Care Act, and payment and delivery system reform.
She went to medical school at the University of California at San Francisco and completed her internal medicine residency at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Jo Ann Jenkins
Jo Ann Jenkins is the CEO of AARP, a group that advocates on behalf of older Americans and has more than 38 million members. Jenkins joined AARP in 2010 and became CEO in 2014.
During her tenure, AARP has pushed Congress to contain healthcare costs for older Americans, preserve Medicare and protect seniors’ ability to live independently. The organization also worked to oppose cuts to Medicaid, which pays for care for people with low income, including many older Americans.
Earlier this year Jenkins headed the launch of AARP’s “Stop Rx Greed” initiative, which focuses on lowering prescription drug prices.
Charles N. Kahn III
Chip Kahn is the president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents more than 1,000 for-profit hospitals and health systems. Kahn has led the organization since 2001.
Kahn previously worked for a health-insurance industry group and as a congressional staffer for committees specializing in health legislation.
In 2015, he authored a report in Health Affairs examining the effects of three Medicare pay-for-performance programs that sparked a discussion on value-based treatment programs for hospitals and physicians. Last year, The Hill named Kahn one of Washington’s top lobbyists for the 18th year in a row, according to his profile on FAH’s website.
Kate Leone is the chief government relations officer at Feeding America, a nonprofit that has a nationwide network of food banks which feed more than 46 million Americans.
Leone oversees public policy, government relations, and advocacy teams to advance Feeding America’s goals in regulations and in the law, according to the organization.
Leone spent 12 years as chief health counsel to former Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), where she worked on the Affordable Care Act, as well as legislation related to the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Food and Drug Administration.
Larry Levitt is the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), where he’s emerged as a top expert on the policy debates consuming American healthcare such as political proposals to create a “Medicare for All” system, reining in drug prices, and the future of the Affordable Care Act.
At KFF, he has overseen policy work on Medicare, Medicaid, women’s health, the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare marketplace at large. Levitt’s tweets and research are frequently cited in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other national media outlets.
Levitt has worked at KFF, a nonprofit and nonpartisan healthcare research organization, for more than two decades.
Farzad Mostashari, MD, is the CEO of Aledade, a company he cofounded in 2014 to help physicians to remain independent. As small doctor practices have been bought up by hospital systems and large groups, Aledade as been an advocate for rural and independent providers. The company says it’s worked with over 6,500 providers in 25 states.
Aledade has advocated to ensure changes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services makes to value-based care programs are fair to independent primary-care doctors. Mostashari previously worked as the National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he oversaw the rollout of electronic health records and improved access to healthcare data.
Mostashari has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and completed his medical education at Yale. He’s been published in The New York Times, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Health Affairs.
Currently the deputy chief informatics officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Alexandra Mugge has played a key role in shaping regulations governing patient access to data for both Medicare and Medicaid and pushing health payers to share more data.
She’s also been instrumental in pushing for the smooth exchange of data within healthcare, paving the way for more coordinated care and reduced costs for patients across the US. Mugge was part of the team that led an overhaul of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentives Program that asks providers to use its capabilities to achieve improve patient care. Mugge has worked at CMS since 2010, according to her profile on LinkedIn.
Sayeh Nikpay is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University. She is an expert in the field of health economics, focusing on how health reform influences labor-market decisions on people and hospital finances.
Nikpay served as a staff economist on the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2011, advising members of the executive branch on issues including the ACA.
She’s researched topics like the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and the effect on uncompensated care for hospitals, as well as the 340B program, which gives some hospitals a discount on medicines. Her earned her bachelor’s degree at Macalester College, and she holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan.
Rick J. Pollack
Rick J. Pollack is the president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA), which represents more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems. He joined AHA in 1982 and took the reins of the organization in 2015.
Under Pollack, AHA launched the political action committee AHAPAC to press its goals. Pollack also helped form the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care, a group that pushes back against funding cuts to hospitals. Pollack has also taken part in efforts to expand healthcare coverage and participated in groups that ultimately led to coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Wendell Primus is a senior policy adviser on budget and health issues to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat. He’s been involved in contentious debates over drug pricing and healthcare coverage.
Primus has been an advocate for Pelosi’s drug pricing bill, which would give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices and implement disciplinary action when drug companies do not comply.
With Pelosi, Primus has fought to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and is considered a lead staffer in developing the health law. The Intercept recently called him “the most powerful staffer in Congress,” citing his deep involvement in health policy.
In 2015, Primus played a big role in legislation repealing a policy known as the SGR, which restricted the growth in Medicare spending on doctors.
Dean Rosen has more than 20 years of experience advancing health policy initiatives on Capitol Hill and in the private sector.
He is a partner at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, where he advises a wide array of healthcare clients. He’s worked for Verily Life Sciences, Humana, and the American Medical Association, according to Open Secrets.
Before joining the lobbying firm, Rosen was the chief healthcare adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) and helped shape legislation creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Rosen also helped pass patient-safety legislation and laws in the wake of the September 11 attacks to ensure that public-health systems had new authorities and additional resources to respond to threats.
Avik Roy is a top conservative expert on healthcare. He runs the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), an Austin, Texas, nonprofit he cofounded, which aims to expand economic opportunity.
As president of FREOPP, Roy has argued to reduce the costs of the healthcare system for Americans and called for a universal coverage system, believing it can rely on free market principles. His work on prescription drug spending influenced the price-reform initiatives of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Roy has served as an adviser to past Republican presidential campaigns: Marco Rubio and Rick Perry in 2016, and Mitt Romney in 2012.
Matt Salo is the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), which lobbies on the interests of state Medicaid directors. Salo was appointed to the position in 2011, when the association was founded.
Salo has since built an eight-person professional staff focused on improving the effectiveness of Medicaid across the US, and works with Medicaid directors across the US.
Before joining NAMD, Salo spent 12 years at the National Governors Association, where he focused on health and human services.
Lauren Silvis is the senior vice president of external affairs at the biotech company Tempus, where she oversees public policy and government affairs.
Tempus compiles data from cancer patients to help doctors find better treatments for the disease. It was started by Groupon cofounder Eric Lefkofsky.
Before Tempus, Silvis most recently was chief of staff of the US Food and Drug Administration and before that was the deputy center director for policy in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Silvis was also a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, focusing on FDA regulation of pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
She graduated from Duke University and earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Elizabeth G. Taylor and Mara Kim Youdelman
Elizabeth G. Taylor is the executive director and Mara Kim Youdelman is managing lawyer of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP). NHeLP was founded in 1969 and litigates health issues on behalf of people with low incomes and others who are underserved.
Taylor joined NHeLP in 2014 from the Department of Justice, where she worked for three years as principal deputy associate attorney general during the Obama administration, and focused on health issues like the Affordable Care Act and emergency contraceptives.
Since starting at NHeLP in 2000, Youdelman has focused on issues including Medicaid and CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, language access, and civil rights, and she leads NHeLP’s work on language access. In the early 2000s she led a national coalition of stakeholders interested in language access issues, bringing together more than 100 organizations, and getting CMS to translate Medicare forms into 15 languages.
Stephen J. Ubl
Stephen Ubl is president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main DC advocacy group for pharmaceutical companies. Ubl has steered PhRMA as the cost of prescription drugs is facing heavy bipartisan scrutiny.
Under Ubl, PhRMA has advocated for health policies that help pharma companies innovate, research new drugs, and increase access to them. He joined PhRMA in 2015, after leading the medical device industry group AdvaMed.
Scott Whitaker is the president and CEO of AdvaMed, the trade association that represents medical device manufacturers like Abbott, Stryker, and Boston Scientific. Before joining AdvaMed in 2016, Whitaker worked for over a decade at the biotech trade group BIO.
He has more than two decades of experience in Washington, where he began his career at the Department of Health and Human Services.
At AdvaMed, Whitaker has helped advocate for the medical device industry’s priorities. He’s worked closely with CMS Administrator Seema Verma to ensure Medicare beneficiaries can better access medical technology to improve health outcomes.
Eric Zimmerman, the global head of the health practice at McDermott Will & Emery, is an attorney and healthcare policy expert who’s worked with large health systems, diagnostics companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. He helps clients navigate laws and regulations around government health programs so they operate properly and get paid for their work.
Zimmerman is particularly knowledgeable about Medicare, the US health program for the elderly and some disabled people. He’s a registered lobbyist and has represented clients to Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other federal agencies. Zimmerman also serves as a principal of McDermott+Consulting LLC to craft its health-policy consulting. He earned his undergraduate degree from Emory University, an MBA from George Washington University, and a law degree from George Mason University.