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Webinar: Federal and State Policy Solutions to Advance Health Equity

Event Info

Thursday, November 18, 2021

01:00 pm EST

Event Info

Thursday, November 18, 2021

01:00 pm EST


The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a harsh light on glaring health and economic disparities in the United States. Legislation under consideration in Congress could help address some of those inequities, particularly measures that would close the Medicaid coverage gap and improve maternal health care. The Biden administration and state policymakers also have opportunities to address barriers to more equitable access and outcomes.

On Thursday, November 18, at 1:00 pm ET, the Commonwealth Fund will host a virtual briefing centered on policy actions with the potential to address long-standing racial inequities in the health care system.

The briefing will cover:

  • New state-by-state data on measures of health care access, quality, and outcomes for people of color 
  • A discussion on the importance of ensuring affordable health coverage, strengthening primary care, and investing in social services to advance equity 
  • Administrative, congressional, and state actions that could advance more equitable care and outcomes
  • Opportunities to address structural barriers and social drivers of racial health inequities. 

Rachel Nuzum, the Commonwealth Fund’s Vice President for Federal and State Health Policy, will moderate the briefing. Additional panelists may be added. Confirmed speakers include:

  • David Radley, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Tracking Health System Performance, Commonwealth Fund
  • Laurie Zephyrin, M.D., Vice President, Advancing Health Equity, Commonwealth Fund
  • Taylor Priestley, M.S.W., M.P.H., Health Equity Officer and Deputy Director of Health Equity & Quality Transformation, Covered California 

Panelist Bios

Rachel Nuzum, M.P.H., is vice president for the Federal and State Health Policy initiative at The Commonwealth Fund, working closely with policymakers at the state and federal level. Ms. Nuzum is responsible for developing and implementing the Fund's national policy strategy for improving health system performance, ensuring that the work of the Fund and its grantees informs the policy process in both the legislative and executive branches of state and federal government. Ms. Nuzum's work also includes fostering public–private collaboration on health system performance improvement with state and federal stakeholders and organizations.

Ms. Nuzum has over 15 years of experience working in health policy at the federal, state, and local levels of government, as well as in the private sector. Before joining the Fund in January 2007, Ms. Nuzum was a legislative advisor for Senator Maria Cantwell (Wash.) on health, retirement and tax issues. Prior to joining Senator Cantwell's office, she served as a David Winston Health Policy Fellow in Senator Jeff Bingaman's (N.M.) office. In this role, Ms. Nuzum staffed the Senator on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Before arriving in Washington, D.C., she served former Governor Roy Romer of Colorado in the office of Boards and Commissions and worked as a health planner in west central Florida. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Colorado and an M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management from the University of South Florida. She is on the faculty of Georgetown University's Graduate School of Nursing and Health Professions and is on the board of the Winston Health Policy Fellowship.

David C. Radley, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a senior scientist for The Commonwealth Fund's Tracking Health System Performance program. Dr. Radley and his team develop national, state, and substate regional analyses on health care system performance and related insurance and care system market structure analyses. He is also a senior study director at Westat, a research firm that supports the Scorecard project.

Dr. Radley joined the Fund in July 2010 from Abt Associates where he was associate in Domestic Health Policy with responsibility over a number of projects related to measuring long term care quality and evaluation of various Health Information Technology initiatives. His methodological expertise is in small-area analysis and in the design, implementation, and interpretation of observational studies that take advantage of large administrative and survey-based datasets. Dr. Radley received his Ph.D. in Health Policy from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in 2008. He holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an M.P.H. from Yale University.

Laurie Zephyrin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., is vice president for Advancing Health Equity at the Commonwealth Fund. She has extensive experience leading the vision, design, and delivery of innovative health care models across national health systems. From 2009–2018, she was the first national director of the Reproductive Health Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs, spearheading the strategic vision and leading systems change through the implementation of evidence-based policies and programs to improve the health of women veterans nationwide. In 2016–2017, she served as acting assistant deputy under secretary for Health for Community Care, and later in 2017, as acting deputy under secretary for Health for Community Care. While directing the VA’s Community Care program, a key component of VA’s high-performance network with an operating budget of over $13 billion, Zephyrin spearheaded efforts to implement legislation, develop internal governance structures, and address patient outcomes through systemwide optimization of care delivery. As part of the leadership team, she also represented VA before Congress and other internal and external stakeholders. Zephyrin is a board-certified clinician. She is a clinical assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone School of Medicine (2013–present) and was previously an assistant professor at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons (2007–2012). She earned her M.D. from the New York University School of Medicine, M.B.A. and M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University, and B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from the City College of New York. She completed her residency training at Harvard’s Integrated Residency Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Taylor Priestley, M.S.W., M.P.H. is the Health Equity Officer and Deputy Director of Health Equity & Quality Transformation at Covered California. Taylor started with Covered California in November 2012 and helped launch Qualified Health Plan selection and certification, plan contracting, and standard health and dental benefit plan designs. She has served as Covered California’s Health Equity Officer since 2018, and in October 2021, she became Deputy Director of the newly reorganized Health Equity and Quality Transformation Division. Taylor leads policy development and oversees implementation of Covered California's health equity and quality transformation initiatives.

Taylor comes to the Exchange after extensive work in health and intervention programs for low-income and vulnerable populations at CommuniCare Health Centers, Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) Head Start, and the YWCA of Sonoma County.  She holds Masters’ degrees in Social Welfare and Public Health from UC Berkeley, where she researched pediatric oral health disparities with a focus on access to care.

Resource List

  1. David C. Radley et al., Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity in U.S. Health Care: A Scorecard of State Performance (Commonwealth Fund, Nov. 2021).
  2. Covered California, “Strategies to Address Health Equity and Disparities,” Oct. 22, 2021.
  3. Grantmakers in Health and the National Committee for Quality Assurance, Federal Action Is Needed to Improve Race and Ethnicity Data in Health Programs (GIH, Oct. 2021).
  4. Cara James et al., “Modernizing Race and Ethnicity Data in Our Federal Health Programs,” To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, Oct. 26, 2021.
  5. Eugene Declercq and Laurie Zephyrin, “Severe Maternal Morbidity in the United States: A Primer,” (Commonwealth Fund, Oct. 2021).
  6. So O’Neil et al., “The High Costs of Maternal Morbidity Show Why We Need Greater Investment in Maternal Health,” (Commonwealth Fund, Nov. 2021).
  7. Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Final Report and Recommendations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, 2021.
  8. Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Proposed Implementation Plan and Accountability Framework. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, 2021.
  9. Debbie I. Chang and Melinda K. Abrams, “Investing in Health: A Bold and Pragmatic Federal Action Plan, To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, Jan. 22, 2021.
  10. Rachel Nuzum, Corinne Lewis, and Debbie Chang, “Measuring What Matters: Social Drivers of Health,” To the Point (blog), Commonwealth Fund, Nov. 2, 2021.
  11. Pokam Tchuisseu Y, Jacobs J, Chhean E, Thoumi A, Tewarson H, Hockenberry S, (2021, November). “Achieving Progress Toward Health Equity Using Race and Ethnicity Data: State Strategies and Lessons Learned.” Washington DC: National Academy of State Health Policy, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.
  12. Thoumi A, Kaalund K, Chhean E, Hockenberry S, Haldar S, Tewarson H (2021, November). “Championing Health Equity: Experiences from State COVID-19 Health Equity Task Forces.” Washington DC: National Academy of State Health Policy, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.
  13. Erin Taylor, Mary Beth Dyer and Michael Bailit, Bailit Health, “Promoting Health Equity in Medicaid Managed Care: A Guide for States,” State Health & Value Strategies, Princeton University, September 9, 2021.
  14. Tekisha Dwan Everette, Dashni Sathasivam, and Karen Siegel, Health Equity Solutions, “Health Equity Language Guide for State Officials,” State Health & Value Strategies, Princeton University, August 9, 2021.

Event Details


Thursday, November 18, 2021
01:00 pm EST