The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System seeks to articulate a vision for how U.S. federal authority, resources, and leadership can join to create a national public health infrastructure, one that improves health and equity every day and enhances the nation’s preparedness for future crises.
Why a Commission?
The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic exposed profound weaknesses and disorganization in the U.S. public health system, including failures in testing, coordination, monitoring, communications, and outreach. It exposed gaps in human resources and infrastructure. And it amplified profound, underlying inequities in health status and drivers of health that could be mitigated by a well-functioning, national public health system.
These failures resulted in no small part from the lack of a truly national public health system that functions day to day, with coordinated leadership at the federal level and with consistent state and local capacity.
The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System will identify key steps for strengthening the public health infrastructure at the federal, state, and local levels. We will review the evidence, engage with experts and public health leaders, and develop a report with specific policy recommendations, written in plain language. This report is intended to inform the transition to a national public health system through more directed use of grant and other federal funds, the resetting of roles and expectations, and reform of legal authority. We expect to release the report in late spring 2022.
The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a National Public Health System is chaired by Margaret Hamburg, M.D., the former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, and former Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene for New York City. Dr. Hamburg also currently serves on the board of the Commonwealth Fund and is Interim Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She will be joined initially by eight commissioners, all nationally recognized for their thought leadership and experience in public health: Mandy Cohen, M.D., Karen DeSalvo, M.D., Julie Gerberding, M.D., Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., David Lakey, M.D., Ellen MacKenzie, Ph.D., Herminia Palacio, M.D., and Nirav Shah, M.D.
The new commission will be supported by a project team that includes: Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., Professor of Health Management and Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University; Nicole Lurie, M.D., M.S.P.H., former Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Anne Morris Reid, M.P.H., former Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., Vice Dean for Public Health and Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Interim Vice President, Global Biological Policy and Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Dr. Margaret Hamburg is the former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation, and former Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene for New York City. She currently serves on the board of the Commonwealth Fund.
Mandy Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., Former Secretary, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Mandy Cohen is an internal medicine physician and nationally recognized public health expert with extensive public sector experience at the state and federal levels. She is former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, leading the state’s COVID response. She has also served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In March 2022, Dr. Cohen joined the primary care enablement company Aledade as Executive Vice President and as Chief Executive Officer of Aledade Care Solutions, the company’s new health services unit.
Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Chief Health Officer, Google
Dr. Karen DeSalvo is a physician executive working at the intersection of medicine, public health, and information technology whose career has focused on improving health and eliminating disparities. She leads a team of health professionals at Google who provide guidance for the development of inclusive research, products, and services. Before joining Google, Dr. DeSalvo was Health Commissioner in post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and also served as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Assistant Secretary for Health (Acting) in the Obama–Biden administration.
Julie Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President, Population Health & Sustainability, Merck & Co., Inc.
Dr. Julie Gerberding will become Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health effective May 16, 2022. She is currently Chief Patient Officer and Executive Vice President, Population Health & Sustainability, at Merck & Co., Inc. From July 2002 to January 2009, Dr. Gerberding was Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she led the agency through 40 emergency responses to public health crises, including the SARS outbreak.
Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., M.P.H., Vice President and Chief Equity Officer, CVS Health
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun leads the CVS Health strategy to advance health equity for patients, members, providers, customers, and the communities served across all lines of the CVS Health business. Prior to this role, she served as Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan and Chief Deputy Director for Health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, where she was responsible for public health and aging programs, Medicaid, and behavioral health. She has also served as Director and Health Officer for the Detroit Health Department and Chief Medical Officer for the Baltimore City Health Department.
David Lakey, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the University of Texas System
Dr. David Lakey is Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the University of Texas System and Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas at Tyler Health Science Center. Prior to joining the University of Texas System, Dr. Lakey was the Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services and served as President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials from 2011 to 2012.
Ellen MacKenzie, Ph.D., Sc.M., Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dean Ellen MacKenzie is the 11th Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the world’s oldest and largest independent school of public health. She leads an organization that includes 700 full-time faculty working in 130 countries and teaching more than 2,300 students from 79 nations.
Herminia Palacio, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO, Guttmacher Institute
Dr. Herminia Palacio is a public health emergency management expert with more than 30 years of experience across a broad range of sectors, including governmental public health; nonprofit, academic and clinical medicine; and philanthropy. Dr. Palacio is President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization focused on advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally. Prior to joining Guttmacher, she was the New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and served for 10 years as Executive Director of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Texas.
Nirav Shah, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Scholar, Department of Medicine, Stanford University
Dr. Nirav Shah is Senior Scholar in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. He is a leader in digital health and innovation, care transformation, patient safety and quality, and the strategies required to transition to high value, patient-centered care. Previously, Dr. Shah served as Chief Operating Officer of Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health.