Barack Obama signed an executive order on April 8, 2009 to formally lay infrastructure in the executive branch to facilitate health care reform activities. The executive order officially creates the White House Office of Reform (the “Health Reform Office”) and lays out its principle functions, including coordination across executive departments and agencies, outreach activities with state and local policymakers, and working with Congress for the purpose of enacting and implementing health care reform. As we reported on March 6, 2009, Nancy Ann DeParle was selected to be the Director of the Health Reform Office. The order grants DeParle the discretion to work with “established or ad hoc” committees, task forces, or interagency groups. It remains to be seen how DeParle will use this authority to promote the goal of the Obama Administration to have an open, inclusive and transparent process for health care reform.
The order also creates the HHS Office of Reform “to coordinate closely” with the White House office. InsideHealthPolicy reports that Jeanne Lambrew is the lead candidate to head the HHS office. Lambrew originally was tapped as the deputy director of the White House office when Tom Daschle was nominated for HHS Secretary and selected for the Health Reform Office in December 11, 2008. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Lambrew was an associate professor of public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin where she specialized in health care policy.