Meet Our Team: Q&A with Deborah Kozick, VP, Medicaid Finance Policy and Innovation

Deborah KozickWith over 15 years of experience designing and implementing programs in support of value-based payment arrangements, care delivery redesign, and provider network-building, Deborah Kozick is leading the Firm’s policy direction on health equity and providing strategic guidance for clients on a range of Medicaid financing initiatives to help enhance access to high-quality care. She is an experienced advisor to State Medicaid agencies, managed care organizations, and providers on strategies for formalizing and scaling cross-sector partnerships and implementation practices to address social determinants of health in Medicaid. Prior to joining Sellers Dorsey, Deborah served as Associate Director, Delivery System Reform, at the Center for Health Care Strategies, where she worked to promote innovative Medicaid managed care policy and contracting strategies among providers, health plans, and state Medicaid agencies nationwide. She also supported 38 states in pioneering care delivery and value-based payment models in the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation’s State Innovation Model initiative. Before that role, Deborah was Director at NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health care system, where she specialized in Patient-Centered Medical Homes and referrals between community-based providers and the hospital system.


What brought you to Sellers Dorsey?
Since graduating with my master’s in public health, I have been drawn to mission-driven organizations, and I am inspired by Sellers Dorsey’s commitment to improving care for vulnerable populations and helping clients to advance health equity in Medicaid. Having joined the firm during the height of COVID-19, I was particularly interested in helping safety-net providers who were struggling to stay afloat to access critical resources to support Medicaid beneficiaries in need during an unprecedented and challenging time. Exposure to Sellers Dorsey staff has been a highlight of my time with the firm, given my colleagues’ deep technical, political, and policy expertise—I am grateful to be surrounded by smart and creative thinkers and mentors who are among the country’s leading Medicaid experts.

What’s your special area of expertise?
In addition to helping clients with the program design, approval, and implementation of key Medicaid Financing initiatives, I am also supporting clients’ efforts to reduce disparities in care that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Since my time with NYC Health + Hospitals, I have focused on addressing social drivers of health through Medicaid and enhancing access to care for historically marginalized populations. Over the years, both in working directly for providers and more recently, in my role at CHCS, I have developed an understanding of the opportunities and strategies to scale evidence-based pilot programs by partnering with a range of stakeholders and by leveraging advances in digital health.

Who are your typical clients?
Safety-net providers, states, and health plans.

What do you like about working at Sellers Dorsey?
Given the range of clients Sellers Dorsey supports, there is tremendous variety in the work I do. While each project presents its curveballs, there is always an opportunity to learn and to apply those learnings to other project work. The clients I support all have the best interests of the Medicaid beneficiaries at heart and often remind us how important the Sellers Dorsey team’s guidance is to ensure they continue to have the capacity to care for their patients and members.

How has your work changed over time?
My work here began at the height of COVID-19, when a number of emergency efforts were underway to manage extreme access and care challenges due to the pandemic. Nowadays, several projects are beginning to shift in focus to prepare for the unwinding of the public health emergency and to help sustain the improvements that emerged over the past couple of years. We have a unique opportunity to help our clients readjust to a post-pandemic world and continue to drive innovation and advance equity in Medicaid.

What do you believe lies ahead in the next couple of years for your clients?
Connecting the dots between funding and impact is important. We are focused on helping our clients demonstrate and articulate the value of the programs we have helped them to design and implement. Drawing clear linkages between the dollars invested and the resulting impact on patient access and quality of care will be crucial to sustaining these programs in the coming years.

What is one important thing you have learned during your time at Sellers Dorsey?
Although Sellers Dorsey has been leading this work for over 20 years, it remains unpredictable and yet so critical to maintaining health across the country, particularly during challenging and uncertain times. While the firm is focused on Medicaid financing, there is so much more to the work that we do.

Do you have a favorite book, movie, quote, or personal hobby you can share?
I love to travel—the further and more exotic, the better! Between limitations due to the pandemic and having two young kids in tow, those travel plans look different these days, but I hope to get back out there soon!

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