5 names to know in Trump's 'beachhead' team at HHS

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"Beachhead" team members at HHS include individuals with previous ties to Mike Pence, Tom Price and Seema Verma.

Just as his executive actions speak volumes about President Donald Trump’s priorities, so too do the administration’s choices of whom to hire at key federal agencies.

This includes both major appointments that require Senate confirmation and the much quieter additions that are part of the administration’s “beachhead” teams—named for the first wave of military troops sent into enemy territory, as Politico explains. Recently, ProPublica published a lengthy list of more than 400 of these individuals who are leading the transition at agencies like the Treasury, Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Included in this list are 35 beachhead team members at the Department of Health and Human Services. Some of them have lobbying pedigrees, while others have served in government roles that offer clues about the new administration’s priorities on everything from health IT to Medicaid policy.

Both HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services now have newly confirmed leadership in Tom Price and Seema Verma. Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy beachhead team hires that they will now oversee:

Timothy Clark

Clark, who is listed in the HHS directory as a White House liaison, was most recently the president and founder of Clark Strategy Group, a lobbying firm that counts pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA among its list of clients. He is also listed as a former California state director for Donald Trump, according to Delve, and has a long history as a political consultant in California.  

Paula Stannard

Stannard, a White House senior adviser at HHS, most recently worked at the law firm of Alston & Bird. While deputy general counsel at HHS from March 2003 through January 2009, she advised the HHS secretary on privacy and data security matters related to HIPAA, as well as federal health insurance regulatory matters, per LifeHealthPro. Below, Stannard discusses Medicaid expansion during a panel discussion in 2013:

Anna Abram

Last week, Abram was named the FDA’s new deputy commissioner for policy, planning, legislation and analysis, per Politico. Previously, she served as a health policy director and senior adviser on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and has also been a staffer for Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., according to InsideGov. Burr has been an advocate of providing “regulatory flexibility and hardship relief to providers and hospitals operating under the Meaningful Use program.”

Brian Neale

Recently tapped to be the director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Neale previously served as the executive director of the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee and was the healthcare policy director under Mike Pence when he was the governor of Indiana. Neale and Verma co-authored a piece published by the Health Affairs Blog that touts Indiana’s Medicaid waiver program.

Keagan Lenihan

Lenihan is now a senior adviser to HHS Secretary Tom Price. Previously, she was a lobbyist at McKesson Specialty Health, according to OpenSecrets.org. Prior to that, she has a history in government as a staffer for Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, according to InsideGov, and as a senior legislative assistant for Price when he was a congressman, per her LinkedIn profile.