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Alumni Spotlight: Cheryl Austein Casnoff forged a long career in public health and health financing policy

December 14, 2022
by Fran Fried

Alumni Spotlight: Cheryl Austein Casnoff, MPH ’76 (Health Services Administration)

What is your current job?

I’m the managing director for the Healthcare Payment, Quality & Innovation Division at the MITRE Corporation. I lead the company’s Health FFRDC [Federally Funded Research & Development Center] opportunities related to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, the Marketplace, and quality and innovation, as well as the cross-Health FFRDC vision and analysis of current and emerging health financing, and public health policy issues and analytics.

I’m the managing director for the Healthcare Payment, Quality & Innovation Division at the MITRE Corporation. I lead the company’s Health FFRDC [Federally Funded Research & Development Center] opportunities related to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, the Marketplace, and quality and innovation, as well as the cross-Health FFRDC vision and analysis of current and emerging health financing, and public health policy issues and analytics.

Describe your work and why you find it rewarding/challenging.

I’m a senior health policy executive with a distinguished consulting and public service career in public health and health financing policy. I bring decades of experience in government and not-for-profit organizations in such key areas as system reform, Medicaid, health IT, health equity, social determinants of health, population health, children’s health, oral health, and systems transformation.

Looking broadly at public health is key to all health policy today. This is even more true related to the pandemic, which touched every aspect of our health care system.

Cheryl Austein Casnoff, MPH '76

I was instrumental in creating and implementing the original State Children’s Health Insurance Program, served as a legislative fellow in the U.S. Senate, and established a new Office of Health Information Technology to promote the adoption and meaningful use of electronic records for safety net providers. I also served in numerous senior positions at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for more than three decades, including as the director of public health policy for the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

After leaving HHS, I was selected to be a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago, where I directed numerous studies related to Medicaid, children, and vulnerable populations. I currently serve on not-for-profit boards on behalf of children’s health and well-being, including Action for Healthy Kids, as well as on the boards of The Medical Research Analytics and Informatics Alliance (MRAIA) and the Department of Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and GEHA. I am also an adjunct professor of clinical research and leadership at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

How did YSPH prepare you for your current work?

Looking broadly at public health is key to all health policy today. This is even more true related to the pandemic, which touched every aspect of our health care system.

Were there any faculty/staff mentors who influenced your YSPH experience?

Mike Bracken [Susan Dwight Bliss Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology, and formerly Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Science and Neurology, a former Head of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and former YSPH Vice Chairman (Deputy Dean)]. I somehow got connected to him to work on his project; I think I was doing SPSS programming. That was my first real experience working with public health data and exploring complex public health issues.

Do you have a favorite YSPH experience you can share?

I did my graduate thesis on genetic screening for Tay-Sachs disease. I ended up volunteering at, then working for, the Yale School of Medicine Department of Human Genetics, which was an amazing experience.

What advice do you have for current YSPH students?

Explore every opportunity for internships and job opportunities. Network with alumni whenever possible.

Submitted by Fran Fried on December 12, 2022