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GAO Makes MACPAC Appointments, Designates Chair and Vice Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 3, 2021) — Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), today announced the appointment of five new members to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC).  He also named the Commission’s Chair and Vice Chair and reappointed two members.

“Policymakers rely on MACPAC’s thoughtful suggestions concerning Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” Dodaro said. “We had a number of excellent candidates interested in serving on the Commission this year, and I’m very pleased to announce today’s five new appointments and two reappointments, as well as the naming of a Chair and Vice-Chair.”

The newly appointed members are Heidi L. Allen, Robert Duncan, Laura Herrera Scott, and Verlon Johnson. Their terms will expire in April of 2024. In addition, Dennis Heaphy was newly appointed to serve out the remaining term of Thomas Barker, which will expire in April of 2022. Current members Melanie Bella and Katherine Weno have been reappointed. In addition, Melanie Bella and current member Kisha Davis have been named the Commission’s Chair and Vice Chair, respectively.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 established MACPAC to review Medicaid and CHIP access and payment policies and to advise Congress on issues affecting Medicaid and CHIP. The Act directs the Comptroller General to appoint MACPAC’s members. Brief biographies of the new commission members and the Commission Chair and Vice Chair follow:

New Commission Members:

Heidi L. Allen, PhD, MSW, is an associate professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, where she studies the impact of social policies on health and financial well-being. She is a former emergency department social worker and spent several years in state health policy, examining health system redesign and public health insurance expansions. In 2014 and 2015, she was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in Health and Aging Policy. Dr. Allen is also a standing member of the National Institutes of Health’s Health and Healthcare Disparities study section. Dr. Allen received her doctor of philosophy in social work and social research and a master of social work in community-based practice from Portland State University.

Robert “Bob” Duncan, MBA, is the Executive Vice President of Children’s Wisconsin, where he oversees the strategic contracting for Children’s systems of care, population health, and the development of value-based contracts. He also is the President of Children’s Community Health Plan, which insures individuals with BadgerCare Plus coverage and those on the individual marketplace, and Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin. Previously, he served as the Director of the Tennessee Children’s Health Insurance Program, overseeing the state’s efforts to improve the health and welfare of children across Tennessee, and held various positions with Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care. Mr. Duncan received his master of business administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Dennis Heaphy, MPH, M. Ed., M. Div., is dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, and has worked to advance whole person-centered care for beneficiaries in Massachusetts and nationally. He is co-founder of Disability Advocates Advancing Our Healthcare Rights (DAAHR), a statewide coalition in Massachusetts. DAAHR was formed in part to ensure that the voices of consumers were represented in the development of One Care, a Massachusetts dual eligible demonstration. Among other successes, DAAHR created an independent One Care ombudsman program run by and for persons with disabilities.  Previously, he worked on various Massachusetts Department of Public Health initiatives on the Health and Disability Partnership and the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. Heaphy is also a board member of Health Law Advocates, a nonprofit legal group representing low-income individuals. He received his master of public health and master of divinity-pastoral care from Boston University and his master of education-counseling processes/risk prevention from Harvard University.

Laura Herrera Scott, MD, MPH, is Vice President of Clinical Strategy and Product at Anthem, where she has developed payer and data alignment policies to support efforts that advance population health. Previously, she held several leadership positions in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Veterans Health Administration. Dr. Herrera Scott’s work has focused on payment reform and delivery system transformation to improve health status and outcomes in underserved communities. She received her doctor of medicine degree from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn and her master of public health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Verlon Johnson, MPA, is Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy at CNSI, a Virginia-based health IT firm that works with state and federal agencies to design healthcare technology-driven products and solutions that improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Ms. Johnson previously served as an Associate Partner/Vice-President at IBM Watson Health. Before entering private industry, she was a public servant for more than 20 years holding numerous leadership positions, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Associate Consortium Administrator for Medicaid & CHIP, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Acting Regional Director, the Acting CMS Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), the Interim CMCS Intergovernmental and External Affairs Group Director, and the Associate Regional Administrator for both Medicaid and Medicare. Ms. Johnson earned a master of public administration with an emphasis on health care policy and administration from Texas Tech University.

Commission Chair:

Melanie Bella, MBA, a current MACPAC commissioner, is head of partnerships and policy at Cityblock Health, which facilitates health care delivery for low-income urban populations, particularly Medicaid beneficiaries and those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Previously, she served as the founding director of the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, where she designed and launched payment and delivery system demonstrations to improve quality and reduce costs. Ms. Bella also was the director of the Indiana Medicaid program, where she oversaw CHIP and the state’s long-term care insurance program. Ms. Bella received her master of business administration from Harvard University.

Commission Vice Chair:

Kisha Davis, MD, MPH, a current MACPAC commissioner, is vice president of health equity for Aledade, which partners with primary care practices to support the delivery of value-based care. Previously, Dr. Davis was Maryland medical director for VaxCare Corporation; worked as a family physician at CHI Health Care in Rockville, Maryland; and served as program manager at CFAR in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she supported projects for family physicians focused on payment reform and practice transformation to promote health system change. Dr. Davis has also served as the medical director and director of community health at CHI and as a family physician at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Maryland. As a White House Fellow at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she established relationships among leaders of FQHCs and the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. Dr. Davis received her degree in medicine from the University of Connecticut and her master of public health from Johns Hopkins University.

For more information about MACPAC, contact Anne Schwartz, MACPAC’s executive director, at (202) 350-2000. Other questions should be directed to Chuck Young in GAO’s Office of Public Affairs at (202) 512-4800. The official announcement will be published in the Federal Register.


The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability

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