March 5, 2024

Health policy pro Anya Rader Wallack is leaving the UVM Health Network

Anya Rader Wallack, a state-level public health policy expert, is stepping down from her executive role at the University of Vermont Health Network later this summer. She will leave her position as senior vice president for strategic communications on Sept. 1, according to a press release from the health network.

Anya Rader Wallack. File photo by Josh Larkin/VTDigger

Rader Wallack served two Vermont governors — Howard Dean and Peter Shumlin — as a health care policy advisor and helped craft Act 48, which launched the Green Mountain Care Board, of which she was the initial chair from 2011 to 2013.

She was appointed to the health network position in June 2021 after serving in public health leadership roles for the state of Rhode Island and teaching at Brown University in Providence. She will be returning to Brown’s medical school to lead a five-year, $25 million grant-funded effort to introduce research-based best practices into healthcare and public health services.

The move will allow her to return to Rhode Island, where her parents and extended family are based, Rader Wallack said in an interview, noting that the commute was challenging. “For my own mental and physical health and the health of my family, this is just a good move for me,” she said. Still, she called it a “bittersweet day.”

Rader Wallack said she has “tremendous respect” for colleagues in the health network. Through the past several years of significant challenges, the weather related to the Covid-19 pandemic and a widespread cyber attack in late 2020, “I have seen nothing but professionalism and dedication from them,” she said.

Jason Williams, the network’s vice president of government and community relations, will fill his role until a replacement is hired permanently, according to the network’s statement.

The announcement of Rader Wallack’s departure comes about six weeks after the departure of the health network’s chief operating officer, Al Gobeille, who succeeded Rader Wallack as chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board.

Rader Wallack is the chairman of the board of managers of OneCare Vermont, the state’s largest accountable care organization and the only organization that contracts with both public and private insurers. She said she will continue in that role for the foreseeable future. The board, which is made up of representatives from health care providers across the state, conducts its business remotely.

Plus, Rader Wallack said, she wants to support the new CEO, Abe Berman, who was appointed after the departure of OneCare CEO Vicki Loner at the end of May, and help implement the ACO’s newly approved strategic plan. “I feel like we’re right in the middle of important work there,” she said.

Sunny Eappen, the new CEO of the UVM Health Network, who took the helm in late November 2022, called Rader Wallack “an essential partner for me as I do my first eight months here.”

Rader Wallack’s work during his two years on the job included development new website to show the general public how the network is responding to the ongoing challenge of providing healthcare in a rural setting.

She also focused efforts toward strengthening connections and efficiencies across the network’s six hospitals – UVM Medical Center in and around Burlington; Vermont Medical Center in Barre and Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, as well as three hospitals in the Adirondack region of eastern upstate New York — to improve access to care and reduce costs, she said.

“The only way rural health care systems can be successful is to have real systems,” and have a collaborative working relationship with administrators and regulators in state and federal government, Rader Wallack said.

“If we do not work together, or if we work antagonistically, the result will not be good,” she said.

“You can’t be banging your head,” she said. “To change the health care system in ways that will make it sustainable at this point requires a partnership between government and the private sector, even if there is regulatory tension in that partnership.”

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