Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey has tapped Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center, to lead the state's sprawling health and human services secretariat, the largest department in state government that manages everything from MassHealth to the child welfare system and the opioid epidemic, according to a source familiar with the search.
“Kate Walsh is exactly the leader Massachusetts needs for this moment in health care,” Healey said in a statement. “She has a proven track record of delivering results on health equity, affordability and behavioral health, while also addressing social determinants of health like food and housing insecurity. She will bring an innovative and compassionate approach to the office that centers the needs of patients and providers.”
“I’m honored to join the Healey and Driscoll Administration as Secretary of Health and Human Services,” Walsh added. “This is a critical moment for our state, as we continue to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, widening health disparities, skyrocketing healthcare costs and a devastating behavioral health crisis. Together, we will work to advance racial health equity, address affordability, spur innovative solutions to our health care challenges, and ensure that people live healthy lives.”
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Walsh has led health care organizations around the greater Boston area for decades.
She started as senior vice president at Massachusetts General Hospital 1988, then moved to lead the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in 2002, and joined Brighman and Women's Hospital as executive vice president and CEO in 2004 before starting at BMC in 2010.
Walsh received her bachelor's degree and a Master of Public Health from Yale University and also served on boards at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, American Hospital Association, Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, America's Essential Hospitals and the Pine Street Inn, according to BMC.
In her role as CEO of BMC, Kate Walsh advocated on Beacon Hill for greater resources for behavioral health care, and led a collaborative to create affordable housing in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan to train and connect Black and Latinx residents with full-time jobs in health care, technology and biotech industries.
"At Boston Medical Center, we see the consequences of unstable housing and a lack of economic opportunity reflected in the health of our patients on a daily basis," Walsh said in 2020 when the collaborative secured a $5 million grant.
As the head of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Walsh will lead a department that oversees 12 state agencies and the MassHealth program, with a combined budget of over $27 billion and 22,000 public employees. According to the EOHHS website, the services and programs that fall under the office's oversight represent 53% of the state's budget and provide treatment to one in every three residents.