Two of Vermont’s top health care leaders are changing jobs.
The executive director of the Green Mountain Care Board, Georgia Maheras, left her post last week to join the board’s first and former chair Anya Rader Wallack in overseeing the implementation of a massive health care reform effort.
Meanwhile, the board appointed Susan Barrett, policy director at the nonprofit Bi-State Primary Care Association, to fill the seat vacated by Maheras.
Wallack is technically a contractor to the state, overseeing the structure of a $45 million “State Innovation Model” grant from the federal government. The grant aims to expand and integrate Vermont’s health information technology systems to better share clinical information. The grant funds will also be used to experiment with new payment models and build upon management platforms set forth in Vermont’s Blueprint for Health initiative for chronic care.
Maheras is the project director for the SIM grant. Monday, she took the elevator up to her new office on the fifth floor of the Pavilion Building in Gov. Peter Shumlin’s Office of Health Care Reform, which is a branch of the Agency of Administration.
“She will basically coordinate the whole structure (of the grant), which involves more than 200 people at this point,” Wallack said of Maheras’ new job. “In particular, she will lead the group of staff and contractors working on the project. Then, she’ll do all sorts of other stuff having to do with contracts and grants.”
Wallack said Maheras was a logical choice for the job because she played a central role in the SIM grant proposal, and she filled a similar role with the Green Mountain Care Board.
“She knows all the players,” Wallack said. “She has been central to the project already and has provided a lot of support to me in the absence of a project director. She has helped a whole lot with the federal interface and the reporting side. … She is really interested in payment and delivery system reform and she brings the skill and background of consumer advocacy, and that’s a rare background.”
Maheras is an attorney who has spent years working on health care initiatives in Massachusetts and Vermont.
Barrett, Maheras’ replacement, is also an attorney. According to her LinkedIn profile, she spent years working in the pharmaceutical industry for companies such as Merck and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. For Merck, she negotiated contracts for vaccines with the Vermont state immunization program and hospitals. At Novartis, she helped state and local governments gain access to meningitis vaccinations and researched vaccine policies and regulations.
Since October 2011, she has represented the Bi-State Primary Care Association in front of the Legislature, the Green Mountain Care Board, the Shumlin administration and other government entities. Bi-State seeks to broaden access to affordable primary care services.
“That type of experience is right down the center of the plate of what we’re looking for,” said Al Gobeille, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board. “She has worked in health care for almost 20 years. What Susan also brings is an understanding of what we’re working on. She has been a partner on a lot of this stuff.”
The board is charged with controlling the growing costs of health care in Vermont, and it regulates hospital and insurance rates as well as capital improvement projects for hospitals.
Gobeille said Barrett will be responsible for ensuring the board’s engine is revving and its wheels are moving.
“Basically, the executive director is in charge of the smooth running of our shop,” he said. “All of our directors work for the executive director. She will be responsible for our budget, our personnel, our contracts and our contract management.”