Q&A with Jeff Harris, Senior Consultant

Jeff’s 30 years in navigating health policies with Medicaid and the uninsured have made him a policy expert for clients. He assists state and local governments and providers with innovating Medicaid financing programs, and he connects private hospitals or nursing homes with their public counterparts in mutually, financially beneficial partnerships. Jeff also offers guidance on CMS reimbursement policy. He started working with Sellers Dorsey in 2011, splits his time between DC and Boston, and travels for projects across the country.

Jeff, what expertise do you bring to Sellers Dorsey projects, and what kind of clients do you work with?
Any and all things Medicaid financing, whether it be technical knowledge; historical knowledge; tactical & strategic guidance; or client relations. As for clients, I work with a range of healthcare providers, e.g., health systems, hospitals & physician practice groups; as well as state Medicaid agencies.

Any recent projects you’d like to tell us about?
I recently worked with two university-based physician practice plans in one state where we helped them implement a value-based payment as a directed payment under federal rules, with dollars at risk for non-performance.

I’ve also been assisting our work with a state client as they implement a local hospital fee program. The initiative involves up to seven different local jurisdictions, in which the assessed dollars are to be used for Medicaid supplemental payments.

So what brought you to Sellers Dorsey, and what do you enjoy about working here?
A good friend of mine with a long-standing relationship with Sellers Dorsey put me in touch years ago. One thing led to another—the rest is ongoing history.

The people and the subject matter. Since I have been involved in Medicaid financing pretty much my entire career, helping clients better service Medicaid beneficiaries has always been my goal, and this exceptionally friendly and capable staff of co-workers makes it all the more enjoyable.

Has your job changed or evolved throughout your tenure with the firm?
The changes in my work hinge on two questions that never change: who can we help garner more funding through Medicaid, and what is the source of the state share to pull down that funding? Of course, every project is different which is where the tactical and strategic guidance comes in. Also, knowing how to work with Medicaid agency officials is crucial. You can’t be a braggart. But the differences evolve (and revolve) around the two central questions.

What changes lie ahead for you? For Sellers Dorsey?
We will all have to work hard to adapt to our growth while also keeping pace with a set of very complicated policy issues, and we’ll have to be generous with our knowledge and advice.

What changes lie ahead for the kinds of clients you serve?
The healthcare industry is going through tremendous consolidation and simultaneously incorporating new technologies. Medicaid programs need these resources to whether the future, as well. The one thing I’ve heard most throughout my career is that Medicaid is “unsustainable”. But here we are nearly 30 years later. The future changes to impact Medicaid programs will ultimately be determined by state Governors in office.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learned throughout your time with Sellers Dorsey?
The following has been a constant issue for me: how essential it is to share information across all projects and intelligence across all states? We can easily get caught up with the immediate in front of us., but all of us need to remember to take a breath, step back, learn and also appreciate the important work we do.

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