Paragon’s efforts will rely on free-market solutions, innovation, patient choice, and competition
WASHINGTON –– Leading health policy experts today launched Paragon Health Institute, a research center that will deliver innovative policy solutions that empower Americans to control their health care decisions and finances, cut bureaucracy and red tape, and reform government programs.
Paragon will be led by Brian Blase, Ph.D., who from 2017-2019 served as special assistant at the White House National Economic Council, along with some of the nation’s most impactful health policy leaders with experience crafting federal and state reforms, including reforming Medicare and Medicaid, expanding coverage options for employers and workers, and reducing regulatory barriers to enhance market competition and innovation. These uniquely qualified leaders have the expertise needed to properly evaluate existing government programs and develop constructive plans for implementing important policy reforms.
“The public health policy debate is overwhelmingly centered on growing the government’s role––rarely is it focused on how government programs can work better and what is most important for health and overall well-being,” said Paragon Health Institute’s President Brian Blase.
Paragon Health Institute will be a counterweight to that imbalance, generating state and federal policy solutions that give patients control of their health care finances with better information about prices and quality. Paragon’s experts will study government program results and contrast government-centric approaches with more market-oriented health policies.
Paragon will “develop policies that address the biggest challenges in health care by empowering patients to drive their care, as well as harnessing competition and innovation to increase access and improve quality,” said Demetrios L. Kouzoukas, the chief executive of the Medicare program at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2017 through 2021. Kouzoukas will lead Paragon’s Medicare initiative.
Paragon’s policy advisors are uniquely positioned to draw on medicine, law, economics, and public policy to formulate effective policies and challenge the entrenched forces that perpetuate an inefficient status quo. The team is also situated to cultivate a generation of future policy champions by educating policymakers and thought leaders on market-based health policy ideas.
“This exciting effort convenes a broad range of health care leaders to think big and bold about how we can improve the delivery of care,” said Dr. Marty Makary, a leading physician, health policy expert, and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Carey School. Dr. Makary is the author of the recently released book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It.” Dr. Makary serves as a Paragon Health Institute public advisor.
Paragon Health Institute leadership team includes:
Paragon’s President, Brian C. Blase, PhD, developed, coordinated, and led implementation of many Trump administration health policies as a special assistant for economic policy at the White House’s National Economic Council from 2017-2019. Since leaving the White House, Brian launched Blase Policy Strategies, has authored nearly 20 research studies, and has had numerous articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Forbes, and The Hill, among other outlets. Prior to working at the White House, Brian held senior roles at the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Brian is also serving as Director of Paragon’s Private Health Reform Initiative.
Caroline DeBerry, Vice President. Caroline DeBerry has been in government and public service for over 17 years. She was a senior federal appointee, congressional staffer, founder of a consulting firm, and a chief officer for an international nonprofit that provides free health clinics. Caroline has worked on several important pieces of legislation, including provisions in the 2020 CARES Act, 21st Century Cures Act, FY19 National Defense Authorization Act, among others. Caroline has ghostwritten law books and other works and wrote her own book, The Renewal of Independence, published in 2010.
Demetrios L. Kouzoukas is the Director of Paragon Health Institute’s Medicare Reform Initiative. He was the chief executive of the Medicare program from 2017 to 2021, during which time he delivered successively lower payment error rates each year, brought about extraordinary reductions in Medicare Advantage premiums, and rewired policies and operations across the board in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kouzoukas’s strategic vision revolutionized Medicare payments for telehealth, maximized access for patients to medical technology innovations, expanded Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits to address chronic disease and social determinants of health, instituted landmark price transparency, and overhauled the skilled nursing facility and home health payment systems.
Gary D. Alexander, J.D., MDiv., is the Director of Paragon Health Institute’s Medicaid and Health Care Safety Net Initiative. For more than 20 years, he has transformed large underperforming government agencies into accountable, value-oriented, and performance-driven systems. As Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Human Services and Rhode Island’s Secretary of Health and Human Services and Medicaid Director, Alexander created structural reforms like the Medicaid Global Waiver and the Enterprise Program Integrity Initiative. These waivers delivered unprecedented flexibility to redesign Medicaid programs and reduce fraud and abuse.
Joel M. Zinberg, M.D., J.D., is the Director of Paragon Health Institute’s Public Health and American Well-Being Initiative. Dr. Zinberg has been involved with health policy issues and the interaction between law and medicine for his entire career. He is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was the general counsel and a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, 2017-2019. He practiced general and oncologic surgery in New York for nearly 30 years where he is an Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine, taught at the Columbia University Law School, and has written for publications as varied as the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, City Journal, The New York Post, and law reviews.
Paragon Health Institute will also work closely with a roster of leading policy advisors, including:
Professor of Nursing and Coordinator for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine; former counsel to the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission on COVID-19
Senior Research Fellow at the Galen Institute and The Heritage Foundation; Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs (2005-2006); Special Assistant to the President, National Economic Council (2002-2005)
Professor of Accounting at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and Health Policy & Management at Bloomberg School of Public Health
Congressman (2011-2019); Chair of House Budget Committee (2017-2019)
J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Chair at the Mercatus Center; Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Public trustee for Social Security and Medicare (2010-2015); Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council (2007-2009)
Senior health policy fellow at Americans for Prosperity Associate Director at White House Office of Management and Budget (2004-2006)
Director of the CDC Center for Preparedness and Response (2019-2021), Commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Health (2011-2019), District Director of the Virginia Department of Health (2002-2011)
Assistant to the President & Director of the Domestic Policy Council (2019-2020); Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner and Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in George W. Bush Administration
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Director of the National Economic Council (Jan. 2005-Dec. 2007), Director of the President’s Council on Competitiveness for Pres. George H. W. Bush; Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Quayle (1990-1992); co-founder of E&A Companies
Senior Fellow and Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Director of Health Care Policy, Goldwater Institute
Professor, John Hopkins University School of Medicine; NYT Best Selling Author of The Price We Pay, Unaccountable
Deputy Chief of Staff to HHS Secretary Azar (2019-2021), formal liaison to Operation Warp Speed; former head of McKinsey & Company’s Global Healthcare Practice
Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; visiting professor of public economics at Harvard and Clemson Universities; Chief Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers (2018-2019), author of You’re Hired!, Chicago Price Theory, Side Effects and Complications, and The Redistribution Recession
Minnesota Insurance Industry Chair of Health Finance in Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and Associate Dean of the Carlson Global Institute; Chief Economist for Health Policy on Council of Economic Advisers (2019-2021); Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Health Economics at HHS; advisor to the Congressional Budget Office
Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; visiting faculty member at Yale University; Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (2019-2020)
Founder and President of HSA Consulting Services; Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council (2005-2006); Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Treasury (2003-2005)
University Professor, Syracuse University. Former President, Kauffman Foundation. Former CEO, Fortis Healthcare. Chaired Commerce Dept. Committee on Innovation in the 21st Century. Founder, Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. Author, Burn the Business Plan; co-author Good Capitalism/Bad Capitalism with William Baumol and Robert Litan. Co-chaired Public/Private Partnerships – White House Startup America Initiative. Serves on the COVID Commission Planning Group
Investment Professional at Rubicon Founders; policy advisor at the Domestic Policy Council (2019)
Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center; Deputy Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (2007-2009); Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (2005-2007)
Founder and President of the Galen Institute
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of State (2020); Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs at the White House (2019-2020); Republican Staff Director of the United States Senate Committee on the Budget, Chief of Staff for the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles
Larry Van Horn
Executive Director of Health Affairs and Founder and Director of the Center of Health Care Market Innovation at Vanderbilt University; Co-Director of Nashville Health Care Council Fellows Program; advised the White House with the June 24, 2019 Executive Order on price transparency; member of the HHS Quality Summit Panel
Dean’s Fellow and PhD student at Mayo Clinic; Bastiat Fellow at the Mercatus Center; Innovation Partners Fellow at Mount Sinai; former Yale University-Mayo Clinic FDA Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation Scholar
Learn more about Paragon Health Institute at ParagonInstitute.org.