MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott formally announced the appointment of Republican Sen. Kevin Mullin to serve as chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, along with Maureen Usifer, who will work alongside Mullin as another new member.
Mullin, 58, of Rutland, is the current chairman of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. He said Wednesday he will resign his Senate seat in the coming days to accept the appointment to the board.
Mullin was appointed to the Senate in January 2003 and has won re-election every election cycle since then. He previously served three terms in the Vermont House. Scott, a fellow Republican, will need to appoint someone to the Senate from Rutland County to complete Mullin’s term, which runs through 2018.
A former member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Mullin worked on the now-defunct Catamount Health program, as well as the legislation that laid the foundation for a single payer health care system sought unsuccessfully by former Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Mullin said he first entertained the idea of joining the board late last year to help deliver “the right care at the right time at the right cost.”
“I’ve been interested in health care costs for a long time,” he said. “When you have something that’s 20 percent of your state’s economy and escalating there has to be some cost containment.”
The five-member Green Mountain Care Board is the state’s health care regulatory body and oversees hospital budgets and health insurance rates, among other things. The board only has three current members. Mullin and Usifer will complete the board’s membership.
Scott said Mullin’s experience in the Legislature as well as his ownership of a movie theater company in selecting him for the position.
“He certainly has a lot of experience from his business experience as well as serving on the Health and Welfare Committee. He brought forth a number of initiatives to the Senate over the last 15 years … that he’s been serving. He’s very thoughtful. He works with other members of the body, both Republicans and Democrats and Progressives and independents,” Scott said.
Applicants for the board are cleared by the Green Mountain Care Board Nominating Committee. Qualified names are then forwarded to the governor who can select people from that list for an open board position. The governor said he has no concerns with appointing a sitting lawmaker to the board.
“I think that anyone who knows Kevin Mullin knows that he works very well with both sides of the aisle and has done so his entire political career,” Scott said. “I think his background speaks for itself.”
Scott said Usifer “has more than 30 years of financial management and leadership experience.” She most recently worked as the chief financial officer for Seventh Generation overseeing finance, accounting, information technology, legal and risk management.
Usifer currently serves on the board of directors and is chairwoman of the audit committee at BlackRock Capital Investment Corp. She also serves on several boards and committees, including with the Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium and St. Michael’s College.
“I am excited by the opportunity to serve Vermonters and work with my fellow board members to ensure Vermont continues to lead on access to health care, while ensuring the system is affordable for the state and all Vermonters,” Usifer said in a statement.
The previous board chairman, Al Gobeille, departed to become secretary of the Agency of Human Services. Another former member, Betty Rambur, left in January to take a new position in Rhode Island. Jessica Holmes, Con Hogan and Robin Lunge, who was confirmed by the Senate earlier this year, are the three current members.
Mullin said he plans to use the work of Gobeille as an example.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” he said. “My main mission will be to try to maintain costs as we move forward and make sure that whether it’s a hospital or insurance company that they’re treated fairly but we squeeze out every last penny.”