As one of the most powerful labor leaders in one of the country’s most union-friendly states, George Gresham has delivered for hundreds of thousands of health care workers he represents all along the East Coast. A member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original Medicaid Redesign Team, Gresham has partnered with GNYHA to advocate for state health care funding. He has also flexed his muscles on broader issues, including raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The 2020 Health Power 100; 6-50
The 2020 Health Power 100; 6-50
Mitchell Katz was hired in 2018 to right the ship at NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health care system, which manages New York City’s public hospitals and clinics. Katz, who turned the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s $177 million deficit into a $247 million surplus, has already narrowed Health + Hospitals’ $1.8 billion structural budget gap. He has also been tasked with spearheading the mayor’s $100 million initiative to reduce the uninsured population.
Paul Francis is one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most experienced and trusted aides, having previously served as the state budget director in Eliot Spitzer’s administration, director of state operations for then-Gov. David Paterson and Cuomo’s director of agency redesign. Following a health scare of his own in 2012 that resulted in the amputation of part of his left arm, Francis rejoined the administration in 2015 as Cuomo’s top health policy adviser.
When Raul Perea-Henze was appointed to his current role in November 2019, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called him “a genuine change-maker.” Perea-Henze helped combat veteran homelessness at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and held key roles at Merck and Pfizer. He began his career in city government leadership at the then-New York Health and Hospitals Corporation. He’s set to tackle homelessness, mental health, opioid misuse and lead contamination.
New York City Councilman Mark Levine is term-limited in 2021, but he’s already running for Manhattan borough president – and part of his record will be his policy achievements in health care. As chairman of the legislative body’s Health Committee and a member of the Progressive Caucus, Levine has championed legislation confronting the public health crisis around vaping, creating a new insurance program for the underinsured and bolstering funds for primary care providers.
Since Democrats seized the state Senate last year and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera was named chair of the Health Committee, his most high-profile cause has been pushing for single-payer health care in New York. But the Bronx progressive, who decided last year against running for Congress since Albany is where he “can best serve for the foreseeable future,” has championed a variety of health care issues, including lead poisoning, maternal health and affordable prescription drugs.
Since 2016, Bea Grause has made her voice heard on a range of health policy issues as president of the Healthcare Association of New York State. She weighs in on issues like patient safety, maternal mortality and the opioid crisis. HANYS has advocated against the proposal to implement single-payer health care in New York and argued against the nurse-to-patient staffing ratio championed by the New York State Nurses Association.
Since 2002, the Ireland-born Michael Dowling has led New York’s largest health care provider as well as the state’s largest private sector employer, with some 69,000 people on staff. Dowling, who spent a dozen years in state government, including in several top posts, also is a good boss: In June 2019, he won the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award as the nation’s top-ranked health care or hospital CEO based on his 95% employee approval rating.
New York-Presbyterian has nearly doubled in size since Steven Corwin took over as CEO in 2011. Today, the hospital system includes 10 hospitals and 200 primary care and specialty practices in the Greater New York area, employs more than 47,000 providers and staff and serves more than 4 million patients. A native New Yorker, Corwin was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the organization’s seven-campus academic medical center.
One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s longest-serving commissioners, Arlene González-Sánchez is battling the opioid epidemic. As co-chairwoman of the state Heroin and Opioid Task Force, she notched a victory late last year by reducing opioid overdose deaths outside New York City for the first time in a decade. Her agency, previously the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, recently was rebranded as the Office of Addiction Service and Supports to better reflect “recovery-centered goals.”
ThriveNYC is the brainchild of New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray. The $1 billion initiative aims to help people with mental illness and is managed by the mayor’s office. Although the initiative has faced criticism for mismanaging funds, it is nevertheless one of the city’s most important public health initiatives. Susan Herman, formerly a member of the NYPD, was named senior adviser to the mayor and director of ThriveNYC in February 2019.
Ann Sullivan, a psychiatrist, was appointed acting commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health in 2013. She has led the office through a “transformation plan” – an ambitious effort to save the state millions of dollars by shortening the length of inpatient stays – while redirecting funds from community inpatient bed reductions to support community services and prevent patients from having to be hospitalized in the first place.
New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, a first-term lawmaker from Manhattan, leads the legislative body’s Committee on Hospitals. With hospitals struggling to stay afloat in Brooklyn, and the city’s public health care system, NYC Health + Hospitals, facing financial challenges, Rivera has plenty on her plate. She has called for the creation of an Office of the Patient Advocate and is seen as a potential contender to be the next council speaker.
My Chi To made a name for herself advocating for women in law and business. In November she was appointed to her role at the state Department of Financial Services, an agency charged with regulating more than 1,400 insurers controlling assets of $4.7 trillion. The seasoned lawyer is a member of the brand-new Committee for the Advancement of Women in Leadership in Financial Services, announced in September by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Patricia Kane, who had served as the New York State Nurses Association’s treasurer, quietly replaced longtime leader Jill Furillo late last year. The labor union has raised its profile recently, lobbying for minimum nurse staffing ratios, both with state lawmakers and hospitals. NYSNA, which also advocated for single-payer health care, persuaded several hospitals in contract talks, and continues to push for broader change in Albany.
Eric Linzer and Leslie Moran advocate for 29 health insurance companies and managed care health plans providing coverage to more than 8 million New Yorkers. Their biggest fight is opposing single-payer health care – specifically, the New York Health Act, which the group argues “would take away health coverage options currently available to millions of New Yorkers and require massive tax increases.” Linzer is the organization’s face, while Moran deserves credit for her tireless advocacy work.
In the face of federal funding threats, five local Planned Parenthood branches in New York have combined under one entity, now called Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. Effective Jan. 1, this new organization is led by Laura McQuade, the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. The group expects to have more than 200,000 patient visits per year at its 30 locations.
The funding threats have also affected Robin Chappelle Golston’s job running the state advocacy arm. She advocated for the Reproductive Health Act, a new law that expanded abortion rights in the state. She previously served as vice president of corporate relations and government affairs at EmblemHealth.
Correction: This profile has been rewritten to reflect the fact that five Planned Parenthood branches in New York combined to form Planned Parenthood of Greater New York on Jan. 1, which had been incorrectly stated as a move that would happen sometime later in January.
EmblemHealth is among the largest nonprofit insurance providers in the United States. Covering 3.1 million New Yorkers, EmblemHealth continues to expand under Karen Ignagni’s leadership. The EmblemHealth umbrella now includes Group Health Incorporated, HIP Health Plan of New York, HIP Insurance Company of New York, ConnectiCare and AdvantageCare Physicians. Before she joined Emblem in 2015, Ignagni was president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group that represents the insurance industry.
Since taking over in 2007, Robert Grossman has pioneered groundbreaking initiatives at NYU Langone Health that he hopes will strengthen the next generation of doctors and clinicians. The dean of the NYU School of Medicine (renamed the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in his honor) has overhauled medical school education to include more clinical training and famously canceled student debt, calling it a “moral imperative.” Grossman has also driven multibilion-dollar increases in revenue and fundraising.
Since his appointment as president and CEO in 2003, Kenneth Davis has reversed Mount Sinai’s fiscal troubles and spearheaded growth, including a 2013 merger with Continuum Health Partners that created the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the country’s largest nonprofit networks. A noted scientist and researcher in the fields of psychiatry and Alzheimer’s disease, Davis also weighs in on policy issues, including the risks of marijuana and the threat of the “public charge rule.”
As CEO of One Brooklyn Health System, LaRay Brown is responsible for overseeing a total transformation of major medical centers in Central and East Brooklyn. She’s armed with nearly $700 million in capital funding from Albany as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Vital Brooklyn” initiative intended to address health disparities. As part of the deal, Brown is expected to develop a 32-site ambulatory care network, deliver infrastructure improvements and create a networkwide health IT platform.
Talya Schwartz has taken the reins at a key moment for New York City’s public health plan, which is playing a key role in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious effort to expand coverage to some 600,000 New Yorkers who lack health insurance. Schwartz, who was promoted in May after serving as chief medical officer at MetroPlus Health Plan, has been coordinating with city agencies on outreach while striving for improved access and quality.
Leonard Schleifer knows how to turn a profit. His decision to invest in pharmaceutical research and development in the 1980s turned out to be a wise bet, and now the Tarrytown-based CEO ranks among the most powerful leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. In an era of sky-high drug prices, Schleifer is among the many pharmaceutical executives who have decided to cut exclusive deals with large pharmacy benefit managers to undercut competitors.
In November, Philip Ozuah was tapped to replace Steven Safyer at the helm of Montefiore Medicine, the umbrella organization that includes Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The health care executive previously served as president of Montefiore Health System and as physician-in-chief of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, implementing programs that helped land the hospital on a U.S. News and World Report list of America’s best children’s hospitals.
Since his promotion to the top leadership post at CVS Health in 2011, Larry Merlo has guided major structural changes and business reforms, including a massive expansion of walk-in Minute Clinics and a groundbreaking stance on ending tobacco sales, both the subject of policy debates in New York and nationwide. In 2018, New York threatened to block CVS’ acquisition of health insurance provider Aetna, but ultimately approved the merger, a victory for Merlo.
In 2013, Michael McGuire was promoted within UnitedHealthcare to become CEO of the managed care company’s New York business. Shortly after beginning the role, he said one of his central goals was to implement superior communication tools that help customers feel more in control of their health care. He has worked at UnitedHealthcare in various capacities for the past 12 years, and is also responsible for Oxford Health Insurance’s commercial business in the region.
Few organizations hold more sway in setting health care policy than the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a pharmaceutical industry lobbying group. As the group’s point person in New York, John O’Connor waged a campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to control prescription drug prices in 2017, calling it “unworkable.” O’Connor continues to advocate on behalf of the biopharma industry in New York, which supports more than 230,000 jobs in the state.
Amid the rancor surrounding the single-payer health care debate in New York, David Sandman has been at the heart of one of its defining issues: cost. Under his leadership, the New York State Health Foundation commissioned a report on the subject from the Rand Corp., which found the proposal could work but would require “significant new tax revenue.” Sandman served as executive director of the groundbreaking Berger Commission before assuming his current position in 2016.
Craig Thompson found himself in hot water following a New York Times/ProPublica investigation into failures to disclose financial ties among leadership at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In response, Thompson doubled down on his commitment to the leading cancer treatment and research center by resigning from his other roles on the boards of pharmaceutical companies Merck and Charles River Laboratories. He continues to fiercely champion scientific advancements at Sloan Kettering.
Jeffrey Sachs is a consultant who has advised New York governors on health care policy since the late 1970s. He played a major role in New York’s comprehensive Medicaid overhauls, helping to negotiate multibillion-dollar Medicaid waivers and serving as one of the lead architects of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Team. Sachs may find himself sought after once again as New York seeks to close another major budget shortfall due to Medicaid costs.
Katie Robbins is no stranger to advocating for universal health care. In 2014, she became executive director of the Physicians for a National Health Program’s New York Metro chapter, which had her campaigning all over the city on behalf of a publicly financed health care plan. In 2017, she became director of Campaign for NY Health, advocating for the New York Health Act, which would make New York the first state to adopt a single-payer program.
Johanne Morne worked with the state Department of Health AIDS Institute for six years before being appointed director in 2016. She is known for her dedication to the Ending the Epidemic initiatives – a series of statewide efforts to eradicate HIV – and has worked on the state’s task force and the AIDS Advisory Council on Ending the AIDS Epidemic Subcommittee. The AIDS Institute creates policies related to sexually transmitted disease, viral hepatitis and drug use.
While some Brooklyn hospitals struggle to stay afloat, Maimonides Medical Center is thriving. Kenneth Gibbs, who previously served as board chairman and took over as president and CEO in 2016, brought his financial acumen to the leadership post, with valuable experience at several top financial firms. On Gibbs’ watch, Maimonides has solidified a partnership with Northwell Health, and it remains Brooklyn’s only accredited children’s hospital, delivering more babies than any other hospital in New York.
As CEO of one of the nation’s top pharmaceutical companies, Giovanni Caforio advocates for public policies that will help drive research and development. Trained as a physician, Caforio is credited with leading the company’s research into innovative cancer treatments and emphasizing a patient-first approach within New York City-based Bristol-Myers Squibb’s corporate culture. He is also a trustee of the industry lobby group PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
As head of the United Hospital Fund, Anthony Shih has been working to spark policy change using data and research. The physician-executive oversees the organization’s efforts to churn out reports on health outcomes, including reviews of the state’s Medicaid program and patient safety initiatives. Before joining United Hospital Fund in 2017, Shih served as executive vice president of the New York Academy of Medicine and executive vice president for programs at The Commonwealth Fund.
Candace Johnson is a scientist who has churned out nearly 200 journal publications, book chapters and abstracts. She joined Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2002, working in a couple of leadership roles before she was promoted to president and CEO. She now leads the cancer center’s scientific exploration of new cancer therapies. In 2010, Johnson was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Patricia Wang is credited with driving Healthfirst’s revenue and membership growth since she took over in 2008. Today, Healthfirst is the largest nonprofit health insurance company in New York by revenue. Wang is responsible for 4,400 employees working to provide health insurance for 1.4 million New Yorkers. She also sits on the board of America’s Health Insurance Plans and works in an advisory role to U.S. congressional leaders for Medicare policy.
Pfizer is one of the world’s largest drug developers, with global headquarters in Manhattan. In her current role, Anna Maria Maritato lobbies the state for policies that will advance the interests of the pharmaceutical giant. Maritato, who has been with Pfizer for over two decades, previously worked in the public sector. During the 1990s she served as deputy budget director for health and human services for the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
David Kobus spent decades leading the New York market for Aetna before moving over to rival Cigna as president of the region covering the tri-state market of New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut in 2017. One of his first big moves as a regional president for Cigna was to partner with the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, bringing its network of hospitals into the fold of the insurance giant.
Stony Brook University’s medical school is the top-ranked institution of its kind in the state. Kenneth Kaushansky, a renowned hematology researcher, oversees more than $90 million that is invested in research each year while training more than 1,000 medical students, residents and fellows. Kaushansky also serves as Stony Brook’s senior vice president of health sciences.
In 2017, Ernest Baptiste was named CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the state. Baptiste, an Army veteran, has more than three decades of experience as a hospital administrator, including stints at St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn, North General Hospital in Manhattan and, for five years, head of the 627-bed Kings County Hospital Center. Last year his title changed to vice president of Stony Brook Medicine.
Frank Proscia was elected in 2014 to lead Doctors Council SEIU, the country’s largest union for doctors. A New York City native who grew up in a working-class family, he became a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and rose through the ranks in the union, which has members in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Proscia has pushed for enacting paid sick leave legislation and ensuring that immigrants get care.
Prior to her appointment as CEO of Primary Care Development Corp. in 2015, Louise Cohen served as vice president for public health programs at Public Health Solutions in New York City, where she was in charge of efforts to bolster patients’ access to community health care services. In her current role she administers a $19.5 million state fund designed to facilitate low-cost loans to health care providers across New York.
Health insurance industry veteran Alan Murray worked at Empire BlueCross BlueShield early in his career before moving on to various leadership roles at United Healthcare and Anthem. From 2013 to 2018, he was the CEO of Northwell’s CareConnect Insurance Co., which is the first health plan that’s owned by providers within the New York State of Health marketplace. In 2018 he returned to Empire BlueCross BlueShield – this time as president and CEO.
Few understand the health insurance landscape in New York and New Jersey quite like Steven Logan, who has worked in a leadership role at Aetna Northeast and Great Lakes for 17 years. Today, he is responsible for Aetna’s operations across New York – a market of 1.3 million Aetna members. Before that, he had an even bigger geographic territory to attend to, overseeing a region that included all of New York, New Jersey and New England.
Since its founding before the start of the Civil War, the New York Academy of Medicine has fought to address the most pressing health needs of urban-dwelling New Yorkers. The organization has conducted internationally recognized scientific research in the field of healthy aging and the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages. Judith Salerno is a noted urban health expert, physician-executive and research advocate. She was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine in 2018.
Correction: Michael McGuire is CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New York; the region was stated incorrectly in an earlier version of this list.