Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top health officials are Nirav Shah, the state health commissioner, and Courtney Burke, the governor’s deputy secretary for health. Burke, who previously headed the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, was named to the post this past summer, replacing James Introne. Jason Helgerson, the state’s Medicaid director, has spearheaded the governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team, and the governor has often touted the budget savings that have resulted from the group’s recommendations. In the Legislature, state Sen. Kemp Hannon and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried chair the health committees in their respective houses. Another key figure is state Medicaid Inspector General James Cox.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named Dr. Mary T. Bassett as health commissioner. The appointment of Bassett, who already had served as deputy health commissioner, reflects de Blasio’s support for some of the groundbreaking health policies of Michael Bloomberg, such as smoking bans. The mayor’s first deputy mayor, government veteran Anthony Shorris, served as a senior vice president at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, and Stan Brezenoff, the former president of Continuum Health Partners, will serve as an unpaid special advisor to Shorris. De Blasio also appointed Ramanathan Raju, the CEO of Chicago’s Cook County Health and Hospital System, as president of New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. In the New York City Council, Councilman Corey Johnson, who was elected this past fall, was recently named chair of the Health Committee.
UNIONS and ASSOCIATIONS
Unions have traditionally played a huge role in the state’s healthcare. The most powerful is 1199 SEIU—whose president is George Gresham and whose political director is Kevin Finnegan—and its power is expected to grow because the union was a key backer of both de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The state’s hospital and healthcare associations include the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), headed by Ken Raske, and the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), which is headed by a new president, Dennis Whalen. Other important association heads include Elizabeth Swain, CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York State, and New York State Nurses Association Executive Director Jill Furillo.
EXECUTIVES and HEALTH MANAGEMENT
Among the most influential hospital and health management CEOs are Pamela Brier of Maimonides Medical Center; Michael Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore–LIJ Health System; Montefiore Hospital President Steven Safyer; and Metropolitan Jewish Health System President Eli Feldman. Joe Lhota, the former Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, replaced Shorris at NYU Langone as its chief of staff.