GIC Elects New Chair; Three New Commission Members Note Dual GIC Objectives

New Chair, Katherine Baicker, PhD

Chair Thomas A. Shields recently stepped down from the Commission after serving for eleven years, seven of them as Chair.  As Vice Chair, Richard Waring of NAGE stated  when it was announced, “He serves as a model for chairing a public body.”  The GIC staff and Commissioners will greatly miss Chair Shields’ exemplary leadership.  

Commissioner Katherine Baicker, who holds the health economist seat on the Commission, was unanimously elected as the new Chair at the October Commission meeting.  Prof. Baicker, who was appointed to the Commission in 2013, is Professor of Health Economics at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.  She is a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research and an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. She serves on a number of boards and commissions, including AcademyHealth, where she has been Chair of the Board of Directors for two years, on Health Affairs’ editorial board, on the Journal of Health Economics editorial board, on the Congressional Budget Office’s panel of health advisers, and on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. She has published extensively on a variety of health economics issues.  The GIC will greatly benefit by having Prof. Baicker at the helm as we face tremendous challenges in ensuring access to health care that is both high quality and affordable.  “Combined with the diverse expertise represented among the GIC Commissioners, I hope that the health economics toolkit can contribute to the GIC’s efforts to design insurance that aligns incentives, provides transparent information, and promotes sustainable, high quality benefits,” said the Chair.

This fall, two new members were appointed to the Commission: Doug Howgate and Anna Freedman.  The Division of Insurance also appointed its new designee to the Commission, Renu Wadhwa, the division’s health care finance expert.  All three new Commissioners pointed to the dual challenges the GIC faces – providing quality benefits at reasonable costs.  “I am excited to have an opportunity to work directly with Executive Director Mitchell and my fellow Commissioners to balance the dual priorities of quality and cost control in an ever changing fiscal environment,” said Mr. Howgate.  Ms. Freedman said, “I look forward to the GIC’s innovative initiatives that provide coordinated, quality, affordable care for its members while maintaining sound fiscal policy for the Commonwealth.” .  “Providing quality benefits at reasonable costs is a challenge as we continue to face increasing health care costs and the changes in federal health care reform that impact the health care delivery system,” said Ms. Wadhwa.

Mr. Howgate is the Deputy Chief of Staff at Massport and previously served as the Budget Director for the Senate Committee on Ways and Means under Chairman Stephen Brewer, leading the Senate’s budget team from 2010 to 2014.  Previously Mr. Howgate worked for the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the National Governor’s Association, and was a legislative aide and policy director for Massachusetts State Senator Robert Antonioni.  Ms. Freedman is an Assistant Budget Director for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and was also employed at the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management and the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University. Ms. Wadhwa provides financial regulatory oversight to health care companies at the Division of Insurance.  Previously she worked for the Department of Public Health as Deputy Budget Director, providing fiscal oversight to DPH hospitals, State Office of Pharmacy Services and several other bureaus within the agency.  She also worked in the private sector at Athenahealth and Partners Healthcare.  We welcome our newest commissioners and extend hearty congratulations to Katherine Baicker and a fond adieu to Chairman Shields.  

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .

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