2024 Health Policy Forum

This event aims to explore strategies to ensure an adequate supply of mental health, specialty, and primary care providers to meet the needs of all communities in the District, identify actionable steps to advance our efforts in eliminating health disparities within the District of Columbia, and discuss methods to foster effective partnerships within the District’s health ecosystem.


Video Remarks: Angela Franco, President & CEO DC Chamber Of Commerce

Opening Remarks: Ricardo Johnson, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Emerging Business, CareFirst BCBS

Keynote Speaker : Wayne Turnage, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and Director of the Department of Health Care Finance

Wayne Turnage is the Deputy Mayor for the District of Columbia Health and Human Services (DMHHS) and the Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF).

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS) supports the Mayor in coordinating a comprehensive system of benefits, goods and services across multiple agencies to ensure that children, youth, and adults, with and without disabilities, can lead healthy, meaningful and productive lives.

As Director of the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF), Mr. Turnage serves as the manager of the agency and the chief advocate for the annual legislative and agency budget priorities. He works closely with the Mayor’s office and City Council to address the concerns of Medicaid stakeholders and the citizens of the District. Director Turnage was reappointed to the position by Mayor Bowser in January 2015. Since his initial appointment in 2011, Director Turnage has spearheaded efforts to reform several of DHCF’s major provider reimbursement systems, established a program of accountability for the agency’s redesigned managed care program, and, more recently, organized and oversaw the implementation of a plan to reduce fraud in the Medicaid home care program – reducing those costs by nearly $11 million per month.

Prior to this appointment, Mr. Turnage served as the Chief of Staff at Virginia Commonwealth University. Director Turnage accepted this position after serving in the cabinet of two Virginia Governors. He served as Chief of Staff to Governor Timothy M. Kaine and served in dual positions for Governor Mark Warner as Director of Policy and Research at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and Advisor for Special Projects from 2004 to 2006.

Director Turnage served as the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources from 2002 to 2004 under Governor Mark Warner and as a researcher for both public and private organizations from 1985 to 2002. As the principal analyst at the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, he authored more than 15 studies.

His work includes studies of health care and public safety. Some of the topics addressed in these studies include the adequacy of Virginia’s Medicaid hospital reimbursement system, the use of Medicaid asset transfers and estate recovery, and the financing of Medicaid long-term care services. While working in the Governor’s Cabinet, Director Turnage authored a study on funding the mission-related activities of Virginia’s Academic Health Centers. The National Legislative Program Evaluation Society selected two of Turnage’s studies for excellence in research methods awards.

Wayne Turnage is a graduate of Ohio State University (Master of Public Administration, 1982) and North Carolina A&T State University (B.S., 1980).

Panel Introduction: Mila Kofman, Executive Director, DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority

Mila Kofman is the Executive Director of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX). She is a nationally recognized expert on private health insurance markets and regulation including the ACA, HIPAA, and ERISA. She has a record of successfully implementing federal and state health insurance reforms and building, revamping, and leading organizations.

As DCHBX’s first employee, Kofman successfully built the organization that now has 100+ employees, with a $40+million annual budget. Kofman has led policy initiatives and secured passage of legislation with unanimous support. She successfully guided the IT development of a State Based Marketplace (SBM) IT system for which there was no blueprint. Although DC was the last state to begin building its IT system, it was 1 of only 4 to open for business on time and stay open on October 1, 2013. Under Kofman’s leadership, DCHBX was recognized by AWS for Best Practices in Innovation (2016 and 2018), was selected by the Massachusetts Exchange to replace its technology for SHOP (first-in-the-nation SBM partnership), and ranks number one for consumer decision support tools. Since 2013, DC’s uninsured rate has been cut by half with nearly 97% of residents now having health coverage.

From March 2008 – May 2011, Kofman was the Superintendent of Insurance in Maine. She was the first woman to serve as Superintendent of Insurance, and while confirmed by a party-line vote of the legislature in 2008, she was unanimously reconfirmed in 2010. While on faculty at Georgetown University studying private health insurance markets, Kofman published 30+ articles in peer reviewed publications, served as an expert witness, and provided advice to elected officials.

Kofman was named by the Washington Business Journal as one of 100 most powerful Washingtonians (2013). She has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Dateline and has been quoted in all national and many local news outlets, and trade press. She has testified before Congress and state legislatures.

Kofman holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1996) and a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland (1993), summa cum laude.


Brian R. Wheeler is the Executive Vice President, Health Services of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit healthcare organizations. In his role, Brian leads a division dedicated to optimizing high-quality, highly integrated health service operations to drive affordable, accessible and equitable healthcare for the people CareFirst serves. He oversees all aspects of provider networks, care management teams, clinical support services and quality & accreditation.

Brian joined CareFirst in 2008 as Special Assistant to the CEO and has served in roles of increasing responsibility ever since. Most recently, Brian served as Vice President of Provider Collaboration and Network Transformation, where he focused on expanding and advancing CareFirst’s approach to value-based care to better serve the region. In this role, he led the company’s provider and network-related business functions, including network strategy, network operations, practice transformation, provider contracting, advanced payment model (APM) design and healthcare delivery partner relations.

Brian has helped shape the regional regulatory environment with his ability to serve as a thought leader and subject matter expert around continued healthcare transformation. He made substantial headway on corporate goals by advocating for value-based care models and improved access to behavioral health and substance abuse services by expanding network capacity.

An entrepreneur at heart, Brian has worked in the healthcare sector for over 25 years, serving in various leadership roles in large and small provider organizations, start-up companies, and a multi-national Fortune 500 company. He served on several corporate, non-profit and community Boards of Directors in the past and currently serves on the Boards of Maryland and DC’s Health Information Exchange (CRISP), the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Advisory Board for Health Payer Specialist.

Ruth Fisher Pollard is an accomplished executive leader currently serving as the President and CEO of the DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA), where she spearheads transformative initiatives to align organizational objectives with community needs, enhancing the landscape of primary healthcare services in the District of Columbia. Ruth also serves as the Executive Director of the DC Connected Care Network (DC CCN), a clinically integrated network of the DCPCA and 7 Federally Qualified Health Centers providing comprehensive pediatric and adult primary care, specialty care services, chronic disease management, and various social support services at more than 45 location throughout the District.

With a robust career spanning diverse and progressive roles in the healthcare sector, Ruth’s public health journey commenced at the DC Department of Health (DC Health) in the early 2000s, where she served as the Supervisory Public Health Advisor and Assistant Chief of Program Operations. Building on her longstanding commitment to community health and advocacy, Ruth’s influence extended to more than a decade-long tenure at Children’s National Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation. At Children’s, Ruth held various roles, culminating in her appointment as Executive Director of Advocacy and Community Affairs. In the last ten years, Ruth’s leadership journey included a significant tenure as the Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Providence Hospital (Washington, DC), where she played a pivotal role in shaping strategic initiatives and leading the advocacy work of the organization.

Aligned with her executive role and driven by her passion for advancement through education, Ruth is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, School of Health and a member of the Capella University School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board. Ruth is an active volunteer, and along with her husband, they are engaged in empowering individuals and communities through focused philanthropy. Ruth has served in various capacities on governing and advisories boards and related affiliations, including Volunteers of America Chesapeake and Carolinas, DC Health Care Workforce Partnership, Cedar Hill Alliance for Health Equity, Police and Fire Clinic, and the Government Relations Committee of the District of Columbia Hospital Association.

Ruth is a distinguished alumna of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, holding a BA in International Relations. She earned an MBA and MS in Healthcare Administration at the University of Maryland Global Campus. Rounding her full life, Ruth partners with her husband Gary Pollard, Jr. to create business opportunities to support their local community and help build generational wealth. Ruth and Gary have a blended family of four young adult children and live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Michelle Riley-Brown, M.H.A., FACHE, is the president and chief executive officer of Children’s National Hospital, ranked #5 in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospitals annual rankings. She joined the organization on July 1, 2023, bringing with her more than two decades of pediatric healthcare expertise and hospital leadership.


At Children’s National, Riley-Brown leads a team of over 8,000 dedicated employees who provide exceptional care to families across the D.C. region. This includes overseeing a 323-bed acute care hospital, the HSC Health Care System, along with primary and specialty care sites. Additionally, she oversees the efforts of the Children’s National Research Institute (CNRI), including more than 300 faculty and staff. Her team also leads community-focused programs and partnerships, including school health services, mobile health services, safety initiatives, and the Child Health Advocacy Institute.


Prior to joining Children’s National, she was the president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, two locations serving children and families across the Houston area. She led the development of these campuses from start to finish, overseeing each step, from the design phase and initial construction to the official openings, ensuring families that quality care was within reach across Texas’ largest city.

Gregory J. Argyros, MD, MACP, FCCP, was appointed president of MedStar Washington Hospital Center effective July 1, 2018.

He joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center in 2012, and most recently has been senior vice president, Medical Affairs, and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Argyros provided overall clinical leadership and oversight at the Hospital Center, with key responsibilities of quality of care, medical education and research.

Dr. Argyros spent 25 years in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, most recently serving as Chief of Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Director of Education, Training and Research for the National Capital Region. In these roles, Dr. Argyros had the responsibility of merging Walter Reed with the National Naval Medical Center.

Dr. Argyros graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Walter Reed, and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. Dr. Argyros completed a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Walter Reed.

Dr. Argyros is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Argyros was named a Master of the American College of Physicians (ACP), an honor given only to those physicians who “demonstrate personal character, positions of honor, contributions toward furthering the purposes of the ACP, eminence in practice or in medical research, or other attainments in science or in the art of medicine.”

Mark LeVota has served as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Behavioral Health Association since May 2016. He is chair of the Department of Behavioral Health’s Behavioral Health Planning Council and previously chaired the District’s Medicaid Medical Care Advisory Committee. Mark previously served as a commissioner on the District Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission and as co-chair of the recruitment and retention subcommittee of the Mayor’s Healthcare Workforce Task Force. Regionally, Mark was a member of the planning team for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia Regional Opioid & Substance Abuse Summit and for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Regional Behavioral Health Forum: Criminal Justice Diversion & Reducing Stigma. Nationally, Mark serves on the Public Policy Committee and the Addictions Committee of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Mark joined DCBHA following eleven years with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, where he led the organization’s grant and contract applications team. He holds an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and an undergraduate degree in Politics from the Catholic University of America. Mark is a District of Columbia Ward 2 homeowner and shares with his wife an appreciation for national parks and marine ecosystems.

Ayanna Bennett, MD, MSPH, FAAP, is the Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) and a servant leader. She is proud to stand alongside the many other dedicated public professionals at DC Health. During her over twenty-year public health career, she has addressed health disparities and contributed to systemic changes to improve public health with sincerity, bold determination and dedication.

Dr. Bennett’s work is guided by her commitment to data informed decision-making, operationalizing health equity, and supporting community driven initiatives. These commitments form the foundation of her goal to create a healthier and more equitable District of Columbia.

Early in her career, Dr. Bennett co-founded the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic, a community-based nonprofit serving young people in Bayview, California. She initially served as Medical Director and later as Executive Director, showcasing her commitment to community health. In 2016, Dr. Bennett joined the San Francisco Department of Public Health as the first Director of Interdivisional Initiatives. In this role, she spearheaded initiatives that integrated department resources, including research, education, community engagement, and healthcare delivery. Since being appointed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and unanimously confirmed by the Council of the District of Columbia in late 2023, Dr. Bennett has been working to improve healthcare quality and population health. Her approach encompasses various strategies such as research, education, community involvement, and healthcare provision, all with a focus on promoting health equity and racial equality within the diverse fabric of Washington, D.C.

Closing Remarks & Reception


Event Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Bronze Sponsor

2024 Health Policy Forum

Jun 12 2024
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


CareFirst DC Headquarters at UCP
840 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20065, 2nd Floor