Special Plenary

Health Care Reform: Will States Be Left Holding the Bag?

Thursday, May 20
10-11:30 a.m.
Westside Ballroom 3 & 4, 5th Floor
Newly enacted federal health care reform legislation promises to expand health insurance coverage to 30 million Americans through a variety of health insurance reforms, marketplace innovations and Medicaid program expansions. States are mandated partners in these policy changes and the associated budgetary obligations. The Congressional Budget Office estimates states will have to spend an additional $20 billion in new Medicaid costs over the next decade. Other provisions of the massive health legislation may generate additional state costs, further complicating an already bleak state budget forecast for the next several years despite signs of an economic recovery.

Marcia Nielsen


Marcia Nielsen, PhD, MPH
Vice Chancellor for Public Policy and Planning
University of Kansas Medical Center
Marcia Nielsen currently serves as vice chancellor for Public Policy and Planning and as a faculty  member within the Department of Health Policy and Management. Dr. Nielsen also serves as associate director of public policy at the Institute of Community and Public Health.
When the Kansas Health Policy Authority was established in 2005, Dr. Nielsen was appointed by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the first chair of the authority board and, in 2006, accepted the position as the authority’s executive director.  The authority is the principal health care agency for the state of Kansas and is tasked with developing and maintaining a coordinated health policy agenda that combines the effective purchasing and administration of health care with promotion-oriented public health strategies. It serves as the single state Medicaid agency in the state.
While at the Kansas Health Policy Authority, Dr. Nielsen oversaw the administration of the medical portion of Kansas Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, MediKan, which provides coverage for certain low-income disabled Kansans, the State Employee Health Program and the State Self-Insurance Fund that provides workers compensation coverage to state employees.


Jennifer Tolbert
Associate Director
Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid, the largest program area of the foundation, provides information and analysis on health care coverage and access for low-income populations. Jennifer Tolbert’s work focuses on the uninsured and includes tracking national and state health reform efforts. She has spearheaded the foundation’s work on national health reform and, in particular, created a widely used online tool comparing leading congressional health reform proposals. Prior to joining the commission, Tolbert served as the assistant vice president for policy at the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. Before that she advised the assistant secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services on Medicaid and CHIP policy issues. Tolbert holds master's degrees in public health and social work from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.


Christine Eibner.bmp

Christine Eibner
RAND Corporation
Eibner specializes in applied econometrics and cost analyses. Her current research focuses on socioeconomic disparities in health; employer-sponsored insurance; military medical policy; and modeling the effect of health care policy changes on costs, insurance coverage, and other outcomes. Her work in the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research has focused on demand for TRICARE, maintaining the operational readiness of Department of Defense medical providers, and the economic costs of mental illness resulting from exposure to combat. Her research for the RAND Institute for Civil Justice includes an analysis of health insurance costs for small businesses, with a focus on how growing health insurance costs have affected other forms of compensation at small firms. Prior to joining RAND, she was an intern at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) and a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. Eibner received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.



Mary B. Kennedy
Senior Policy Advisor for Health Reform
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Mary B. Kennedy has served in a variety of positions related to health care reform, Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare and dual eligibles in the private, nonprofit and government sectors. She worked in government for nearly 30 years primarily with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, but joined the Minnesota Department of Health during the development and implementation of the MinnesotaCare health reforms in the early and mid 1990s. From 1997 until late 2004, she served as Minnesota’s Medicaid director. From late 2004 through 2007, she worked as senior vice president at Evercare to develop integrated care models for dual eligibles. Beginning in 2008 until she joined CMS this January, she worked as the director of Medicare at the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, helping the nonprofit, community based plans as they implemented Special Needs Plans for dual eligibles.