Key Health Care Player Returning

Aug 14, 2013

Credit Toby Talbot / AP

She may have resigned her high-profile post as chairwoman of the Green Mountain Care Board, but Anya Rader Wallack’s role in health care reform in Vermont is far from over.

Rader Wallack, who departed her post less than two weeks ago, is on the verge of inking a $100,000 contract with the state to oversee the use of a $45 million federal grant. In her work on the “State Innovation Model” grant, Rader Wallack will seek to propel many of the same objectives pushed by the Green Mountain Care Board.

Her expertise on matters including alternative care models and payment reform is among the reasons cited by a top administration official in his request to award Rader Wallack a no-bid contract.

In an Aug. 7 memo to Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding, Deputy Administration Secretary Michael Clasen made the case for the no-bid process.

“Anya is best suited to provide the leadership and policy expertise needed to implement Vermont’s payment and delivery system reform initiatives funded through the SIM Testing Grant,” Clasen wrote.

The $100,000 contract will pay Rader Wallack $200 an hour for up to 500 hours over the next year, a rate Clasen told Spaulding was “competitive with and, in fact, lower than other private sector consultants with similar expertise and experience.”

Spaulding, who was unavailable for comment Monday, approved the request.

Rader Wallack, who left the board to return to her home in Rhode Island, will captain a nine-person “core team” made up of representatives from entities most critical to the grant’s success. She will also advise Gov. Peter Shumlin on policy decisions related to the State Innovation Model.

Vermont is one of six states to win the federal SIM grant, which Rader Wallack said is geared toward what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid calls the “triple aim” of “improving quality of health care, improving patient experience and reducing the cost of care.”

“I describe it as an expansion and integration of payment models that move away from fee-for-service, so it’s an acceleration of what we’re already doing under payment reform expanding it to additional providers, and then also an expansion of new care management models, through provider organizations that are willing to take on the task of sort of reorganizing how they provide care to specific populations that have chronic illnesses or are high-needs or high-cost,” Rader Wallack said in an interview Monday.

She said the grant will also look to advance technological innovations that will allow providers to access and share patient data in ways that optimize care and reduce costs.

Other members of the core team include Lisa Ventriss, president of the Vermont Business Roundtable; Paul Bengtson, CEO of the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital; Secretary of Human Services Doug Racine; and Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration.

The grant, Rader Wallack said, is “a big opportunity for Vermont to organize what otherwise might be disconnect activities happening across the public and private sectors, and make sure everyone’s rowing in the same direction.”

Given her desire to get back to Rhode Island, Rader Wallack said she and the governor “decided that an appropriate role for me was to take on a more limited role than what I’ve had in the past but still have a leadership role in terms of the grant.”

The contract, yet to be finalized, will, in addition to the hourly rate, compensate Rader Wallack for travel costs. The contract calls for her to be in Vermont twice a month.

In his request to Spaulding for the “sole-source” contract, Clasen offers a sampling of hourly rates from “similar consultants who have had health-reform related” contracts with the state. Those hourly rates, including ones charged by former commissioners of the Vermont Department of Mental Health and Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, range from $219 to $395.