Health Policy Roundup: Federal Policy Analysis and Priorities

Jennifer B. Alton, MPP, is president of Pathway Policy Group. She has spent her career successfully working at the intersection of government, external stakeholders, and media to identify and achieve win-win policy solutions through trusted relationships and tailored advocacy strategies. Jenn has almost two decades of experience in senior corporate and federal government roles, specializing in life sciences, public health, biotechnology, pandemic preparedness, and biodefense. She is a Center Affiliate for the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security. Jenn has advised senior leaders in the private and public sectors on external affairs strategies and organizational structure, including federal government relations, coalition building, and strategic communications. Jenn worked in the biotechnology industry for many years, leading the establishment of the U.S. government affairs office for a multi-national company developing vaccines for infectious diseases as well as cancer immunotherapies. As Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Jenn led the company’s public policy and federal government affairs activities for eight years, including policy development, political advocacy, public affairs, alliance development, and trade association management. Jenn also worked on Capitol Hill for several years as Public Health Policy Director with the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (Senator Richard Burr). She led the development and negotiation of policy and legislation on a variety of public health issues, and successfully shepherded the bipartisan Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act into law, transforming the country’s preparedness for health security threats and establishing two new offices at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Jenn previously worked at HHS, where she was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow focused on budget formulation and legislative affairs; she received the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service. Jenn earned her Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, and Bachelors degree from Whittier College. She also completed Columbia Business School’s High Impact Leadership Program and Wharton Business School’s Pharmaceutical and Biotech Executives Leadership Program.

Contact: / @JennBAlton

Yvette Fontenot, MPP, has nearly 25 years of federal health care experience and has held senior positions on Capitol Hill as well as in the White House and at HHS. She is an expert on the federal legislative and regulatory process and has longstanding relationships with lawmakers, regulators and thought-leaders. She is currently a Partner at Avenue Solutions where she develops and implements targeted and comprehensive policy and communications strategies on behalf of a range of health care clients. Prior to joining Avenue Solutions, Yvette was a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House and Deputy Director of the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services where she developed policy and coordinated and cleared all matters related to the Affordable Care Act and provided outreach to Congress and other stakeholders with interests in health care reform. Prior to her work in the Administration, Yvette served as Professional Staff with the Senate Finance Committee where she was a principle author of the Affordable Care Act. Yvette has also served as Professional Staff for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives; as Senior Legislative Advisor for Senator John D. Rockefeller; and as a program analyst for the Office of Management and Budget. In these capacities, Yvette developed, analyzed, and estimated the budgetary and programmatic impacts of and pursued legislation affecting Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program with a focus on physician, prescription drug and hospital reimbursement. Yvette currently sits on the Board of Experts of Axios News and the NYU Wagner Graduate School Health Advisory Board. Yvette received her Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and her Bachelor’s degree from Duke University.


Katie Keith, J.D., MPH, provides “Following the ACA” rapid response analysis for Health Affairs Forefront and is the director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center where she also teaches a course on the Affordable Care Act. Katie also serves as an associate research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms and as an appointed consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. She received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and holds a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

Contact: / @Katie_Keith

Cindy Mann, J.D., has more than 30 years of experience in federal and state health policy, and works with clients to develop and implement strategies around federal and state health reform, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and delivery and payment system transformation. Her clients include states, providers, plans, consumer organizations and foundations. Before joining Manatt, Cindy was deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services where she led the administration of Medicaid, CHIP and the Basic Health Program for more than five years during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Cindy set and oversaw the implementation of federal policy relating to all aspects of the Medicaid program including delivery and payments, eligibility, benefits, waiver policy and long term services and supports. Throughout her time at CMS, she was deeply involved in supporting state program implementation and innovation, and coordinating policy and program operations with the Marketplace. Prior to her appointment at CMS, Cindy was a research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. There, she was the founder and director of the Center for Children and Families, focusing on health coverage, financing and access issues affecting low-income populations. Previously, Cindy was a senior advisor at the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. She also was director of the Family and Children’s Health Program group at the Health Care Financing Administration, now CMS. Cindy joined the HCFA from the Center on Budget and Public Policy, where she directed the center’s federal and state health policy work. Previously, she worked on these issues in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.


Rachana Pradhan, a correspondent with Kaiser Health News, reports on a broad array of national health policy decisions and their effect on everyday Americans. She came to KHN from Politico, where for five years she covered health care policy and politics on national and state levels. Rachana has been involved in several high-impact projects in her time as a health care reporter, including an investigation into former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s extensive use of private jets at taxpayers’ expense. The investigation, which resulted in Price’s resignation, was a 2018 finalist for the American Society of News Editors’ O’Brien Fellowship Award and earned an honorable mention in the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Edgar A. Poe award. Rachana’s other reporting stints include covering city government for The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia, and reporting on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for Inside Health Policy, a health care trade publication. She graduated from James Madison University.

Contact: / @rachanadixit

Rodney Whitlock, Ph.D., is an accomplished health care executive with more than two decades on the Hill where he specialized in rural health, the health care safety net and disability policy. With nearly 25 years of experience, Rodney possesses and offers clients the kind of knowledge that is uniquely available to those who have drafted and advanced legislation. He strategically guides clients through dense Medicare and Medicaid issues that have significant business impact.
While working in Congress, Rodney served as former US Representative Charlie Norwood’s (R-GA) health policy director where he managed the Patients’ Bill of Rights (S.1890), among other notable health policy matters. Rodney then went on to serve Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in the Senate. He first joined the Senate Finance Committee Staff as a health policy advisor to Chairman Grassley, and ultimately joined the Senator’s personal office as health policy director. During his time in the Senate, Rodney served as the lead Republican staffer for Medicaid legislation from 2005 to 2010, and continued to serve Senator Grassley on all health-related issues through 2015. During his time in the Senate, Rodney helped staff Republicans in the Senate on such prominent and important legislation as the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2007 and 2009 and Affordable Care Act of 2010. For the last 20 years, Rodney has been an adjunct faculty member at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, and the Graduate School of Political Management’s Department of Legislative Affairs. Hundreds of students have taken Rodney’s courses and have gone on to pursue careers in Washington, DC.

Contact: / @RodneyLWhitlock