Government Affairs Council
Intelligence. Experience. Visionary
Our Government Affairs Council assembles a passionate, very experienced, and knowledgeable group of leaders that understand how the U.S. healthcare system currently operates, viewing through the lens of barriers and opportunities for policy changes to support the scaling of community-based home pediatric palliative care programs. This council becomes a national resource of expertise to support local initiatives by leveraging best practices and sharing practical guidance. At the Federal level, policy initiatives will be prioritized and pursued through an amplified common voice for greater impact.
This forum meets bimonthly for 90 minutes to foster collaboration, strategically discuss key issues and set the policy priorities for NCPPCH at the Federal and State levels.
Rich Forschler, JD
Board Champion, GAC Chair
Partner, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
During a career spanning four decades, including as partner and head of the Government Advocacy team at the national law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, Rich has played a pivotal role in developing strategies to address many of Minnesota’s most important public policy challenges. With an unparalleled knowledge about state issues, corporate strategies, public policy and the inner workings of the Capitol, Rich brings valuable experience and connections to his work.
Rich received his Bachelor of Arts degree as a political science major in 1974 from the University of Minnesota. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1977. He retired from Faegre Baker Daniels at the end of 2018 and is presently working as a Senior Counselor at Rapp Strategies, Inc., a Minneapolis public relations firm.
Jeff Schiff, MD, MBA
Senior Scholar - AcademyHealth
Jeff Schiff, M.D., M.B.A., is a Senior Scholar at AcademyHealth and a health services policy consultant focusing on improving the outcomes for those with limited resources. His work includes the use of policy and the implementation of quality improvement to fundamentally change health care systems. He served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (including the state’s Medicaid program) from 2006 to 2019. He sponsored the work in Minnesota highlighted in this report. He is a past chair of the Medicaid Medical Directors national network and a past president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a pediatrician with a subspecialty in pediatric emergency medicine.
For over 30 years, Hauppauge, NY resident Bob Policastro has made it his mission to give medically fragile children and their families a place to turn to — not just for specialized nursing care but love and normalcy. As founder and executive director of Angela’s House, a nonprofit organization that offers an extensive array of services for families to support children with severe medical conditions, he has worked tirelessly since 1992 to address the gap in New York’s health care system when it comes to helping chronically ill kids. When his daughter, Angela, was born in August 1989, Policastro said everything went wrong. Grief stricken, he said he was determined to be a voice for these parents and kids in the community after Angela died a little after her first birthday.
Susan Agrawal, PhD
Editor of Complex Child, Kids’ Waivers
Susan Agrawal, the editor of Complex Child, is the parent of Karuna, a child with complex medical needs who passed away 9/19/2014. Karuna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy secondary to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and a progressive disorder that was likely autoimmune causing multisystem organ failure. Karuna was vent-dependent, had a GJ tube, a central line, was 100% TPN (IV nutrition) dependent, was on oxygen, and used a Foley catheter.
Susan holds a humanities PhD and used to serve on the faculty of a top research university in the Chicago area. In addition to her work on Complex Child, she also maintains Kids’ Waivers, a website devoted to information on Medicaid waivers for children, and helps run MFTD Waiver Families, an advocacy and support group for families in Illinois who receive home nursing.
She currently cares for her typically developing children Sameer and Neena.
Family Engagement Specialist, Healthcare Systems & Public Health
Dawn is the mother of a young adult daughter with complex medical, cognitive, and physical conditions due to a rare genetic chromosomal abnormality. Having many years of experience learning to navigate the vast systems of care her daughter needs has given her a good perspective and lived experience to share. Over the last 5 years, she has been committed to using her experience to collaborate with and improve the systems of care for all families in Arizona. Her experience has allowed her to serve on several councils, working collaboratives, taskforces, and trainings for both providers and families at the State and Federal level. She currently serves on the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Board, is a member of the Arizona Long Term Care Services (ALTCS) Advisory Council since 2017, and brings a wealth of experience in Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant Programs from Arizona and other states.
Brian Osberg, MPH
Retired Health Care Executive and Former State Medicaid Director
For more than 40 years, Brian used his experience in health care management and policy to help people get the health care they need and deserve. His management experience extends across the provider, health plan and public health care purchasing sectors, and it was through his quiet leadership that Brian often ventured into unchartered territory as healthcare rapidly evolved. While in the private sector, his focus was on the development of integrated care systems in a managed care environment. His accomplishments in this realm included the formation of physician-hospital partnerships, the development of health plan-provider joint ventures, the management of provider-sponsored managed care organizations, and the creation of risk-sharing arrangements. In his last position before retiring from the National Governors Association, Brian used his talents formulating and using best practices related to Medicaid and CHIP and the intersection of those programs with other health care areas, including public health and insurance exchanges.
In 2002, he was appointed by then Governor Jesse Ventura as Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The next governor, Tim Pawlenty, retained Brian in this position where he stayed for 8 years, a tenure rarely seen in these types of positions. His ability to negotiate, collaborate and build bridges were themes throughout his career, a skill not often lauded, but highly effective in bringing about change. As Minnesota State Medicaid Director, he led the agency’s health care reform efforts, developed its capacity to manage its health care services including chronic care coordination and medical home, created innovative managed care products for Medicare and Medicaid clients, and developed related IT and e-health systems.
In addition to his degrees from the University of Minnesota, Brian has also completed the requisite course work for a Masters in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas.
Melissa Keller, MBA
Founder and President, Abigail E. Keller Foundation
Melissa Keller’s beautiful daughter Abbey had many health obstacles throughout her 11 ½ years from a myriad of diagnoses. The Abigail E. Keller Foundation was formed in loving memory to champion and support medically fragile and terminally ill children and their families in the Austin, TX area.
Throughout her professional career, Melissa supported elected officials at both the federal and state levels. She assumed the role of Constituent Liaison for a United State Congressman, effectively bridging the gap between constituents and their representatives. Later, she took on the position of Communications Director for the Texas Railroad Commissioner, where she skillfully handled communication strategies and policy initiatives for the powerful state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas.
Furthermore, Melissa’s commitment to public service led to her appointment by Texas Governor Rick Perry on the Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education under the Texas Education Agency from 2012-1015, that allowed her to advocate for parents and their special needs children’s education.
Throughout these experiences, Melissa enhanced her understanding of the intricacies of both federal and state legislative processes and procedures. Melissa brings a wonderful combination of lived experiences and passion to get things done.
David M Steinhorn, MD, FAAP
Medical Director, Palliative Care / Attending Critical Care at Children's National Medical Center
Dr. Steinhorn was the Medical Director for the Children’s Memorial Hospital Integrative Medicine Initiative for seven years which undertook research on complementary medicine in children. Dr. Steinhorn served on the Executive Committee and was a founding member of the AAP’s Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He was on the medical advisory board of Almost Home Kids, a transitional care facility in Naperville, Il., and was the advisor to the Greater Illinois Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition. Dr. Steinhorn has additional training in energy medicine, yoga, meditation, and shamanism. He has studied with teachers from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, the Four Winds Society, and Dr. Carl Greer. He is certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics in Critical Care and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Prior to his current position as Medical Director of the PANDA Palliative Care Program and an ICU and Hospice Physician at Children’s National Health Center, in Washington D.C., Dr. Steinhorn was the Medical Director of the George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, CA and a PICU attending at UC Davis Medical Center. George Mark was established in 2004 and is the first freestanding children’s hospice in the United States.
David Kruger, DNP, RN, CNML
Chief Operating Officer, Almost Home Kids
David Kruger is a senior level nursing professional with 20 years of progressive leadership in pediatric healthcare. He recently joined Almost Home Kids as Chief Operating Officer, after 12 ½ years with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, most recently serving as Director of Patient Care Services Emergency Department. He has a deep knowledge of managed care, reimbursement requirements, multiple payer arrangements, accountable care models, and population health initiatives.