This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Nielsen appointed to DC policy position

Nancy Nielsen was recruited by the federal government to serve a one-year appointment as an advisor for Medicare and Medicaid reform efforts. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

Published: May 5, 2011

Nancy Nielsen, former director of the Office of Medical Education in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and past president of the American Medical Association, has assumed a health policy leadership role in Washington, D.C.

Nielsen began serving a yearlong appointment last month as senior advisor for stakeholder engagement at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Michael E. Cain, dean of the medical school, says Nielsen will return to UB after her federal appointment is completed and take on a new role as the school’s senior associate dean for health policy.

“We will look to Nancy after her one-year appointment to provide us a comprehensive and timely perspective on health care reform, its impact on the school of medicine and biomedical sciences, the UBMD practice plan, and our hospital partners so that we are best prepared to transform health care delivery in Western New York,” Cain says.

As senior advisor for stakeholder engagement at the CMMI, Nielsen will report to the director of the center. She also will have a separate report to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who will tap Nielsen for assistance on special projects.

Established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the CMMI is charged with testing innovative approaches to improving health care delivery, payment and quality.

Its mission represents “a potential transformation in how health care is delivered and paid for,” says Nielsen. “The idea is to identify the best thinking and best practices, bring them to this center and then disseminate them so that we can all become a learning community throughout the country. It doesn’t make sense to have every single community trying to figure out how to move forward, without sharing what others have learned.

“The goals of the center have been termed a ‘triple aim’—of better health for communities, better care when people need care, and lowering of costs,” she continues. “And we think there’s plenty of ways to do that. It’s not a matter of withholding health-care benefits; it’s a matter of giving doctors tools and empowering them to deliver care in a way that they know is better for their patients and actually gives them more joy in their work.”

Once her term in Washington is concluded, Nielsen will return to UB to serve in her role as senior associate dean for health policy. “I will work to bring the best, latest information to our school—and to all of UB’s health science schools—about what’s happening in the health-policy arena,” she explains. “As we all know, there have been dramatic changes at the federal level in the last few years, and we’re certainly going to see changes at the state level in Medicaid redesign.

“There are other academic health centers around the country that are poised to take a leadership role in this arena, and my goal, among others, is to make sure that UB is at the leading edge and working from a proactive, not reactive, perspective.”

Nielsen also will teach health policy to students, consult with UBMD clinicians and collaborate with faculty and curriculum committee members to disseminate knowledge about health care policy as it evolves.

Prior to attending medical school at UB, Nielsen earned a doctorate in microbiology from Catholic University in Washington, D. C. In addition to her experience as a clinician and a leader in academic and organized medicine, she has served as a member of board of directors for numerous stakeholder organizations, including the National Patient Safety Foundation, the National Quality Forum, the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company, and Kaleida Health.

She also served for three years as chief medical officer for Independent Health, an HMO headquartered in Buffalo.

In 2009, Nielsen was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.