Jeanne Lambrew
Jeanne Lambrew
Gov.-elect Janet Mills announced last week that she will nominate former Obama administration official Jeanne Lambrew to head the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Considered to be a national health expert, Lambrew grew up in Portland, Maine, and served as deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for health policy from 2013 to 2017. In a press release, the Mills campaign said picking Lambrew as her first nominee underscores her commitment to addressing health care.

“For the last year, the people of Maine have told me time and time again that health care is the number one issue in their lives. I heard them, I made it a focus of my campaign, and now I am making it a top priority of my administration,” said Mills in a statement. “That is why I have selected Jeanne Lambrew to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Not only does Jeanne have extensive executive and managerial experience, but she also possesses a deep well of policy knowledge and the skills to effectively implement complex policies.”

Mills said she looks forward to working with Lambrew to expand Medicaid, make health care more accessible, address the opioid epidemic and “reorient DHHS so it once again achieves its mission of serving Maine’s most vulnerable.” In the same press release, Lambrew said her top priority will be to revamp DHHS so that it delivers on its “core mission and to take steps to lower the cost of health care, to lower prescription drug prices, expand treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and to strengthen public health preparedness.” She added, “This will take time and work, but the long-run benefits are worth it, and I pledge to the people of Maine to give it my all.”

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Lambrew was an associate professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in Austin, Texas, from 2007 to 2008 and the the George Washington University School of Public Health from 2001 to 2007. She also served as a senior fellow for health policy at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress from 2003 to 2007. Most recently, Lambrew was a senior fellow at Century Foundation, a New York-based progressive think tank, where she worked on health care policy. She has master’s and doctoral degrees in health policy from University of North Carolina School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College. Her nomination will be subject to confirmation by the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee when the Legislature returns in January.