Anya Rader Wallack, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, announced on Wednesday that she is resigning less than two years into her seven-year term.
Wallack was a key architect of Act 48, the benchmark health care bill that established the Green Mountain Care Board and set the state on course to create a single-payer system. As chair of the board, Wallack’s primary task has been to control the growth of health care costs in Vermont.
Wallack is leaving the board in September to resume living with her family in Rhode Island.
“To do a job like this, and to be a good spouse and to be a good parent, is an incredible challenge,” she said. “And to do that with your family five hours away, and seeing them every two or three weeks, is more than a challenge — it’s just impossible.”
Wallack’s fellow board member Al Gobeille is set to replace the veteran health care policymaker. Gobeille, who has a brief background in health care policy, is a longtime restaurateur and is praised by his peers for his leadership abilities and skills with finances. He is Gov. Peter Shumlin's top choice to replace Wallack.
“It’s great to have a business person, who has the respect of the business community leading the charge,” Shumlin said.
Con Hogan, who is a board member and former secretary of the Agency of Human Services, praised Gobeille.
“He is a natural leader. He is the kind of guy who, I think, can keep us moving in the right direction,” he said. "Some of the feedback from the press at this point is that he doesn’t have a policy background. Well the board does, and it’s a strong board.”
Wallack touted Gobeille’s strengths on a balance sheet.
“When we went through hospital budgets, he was my man,” she said. “He really understands finances.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Shumlin told reporters that Gobeille would only accept the chair position if he had someone with Wallack’s policy background to assist the board. The governor said his “preference would be that Anya be that person.”
Wallack said she currently plans to return to running her firm Arrowhead Health Analytics, LLC, which has consulted to the state of Vermont. While she would not commit to working with the board in the future, she hinted at it.
“It is really hard to walk away from this,” she said. “It feels like I’m putting up my baby for adoption. So, the idea that I’d walk away is a bit hard to fathom.”
Shumlin said he would lobby Wallack for the next six months to stay on board, even if from afar.
“I just want to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that we would not be where we are as the first state to implement the first sensible health care system in America if it were not for Anya’s extraordinary contributions, knowledge, skill and ability to get things done,” Shumlin said.
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