Governor Wolf Nominates Acting Secretaries of Health, Human Services, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Acting Commissioner of Insurance to Serve Permanently
October 12, 2017
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today nominated Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller, Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith, and Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman to serve permanently in their respective roles, pending approval by the Pennsylvania Senate.
“Each of these leaders, in their respective agencies, is dedicated to furthering the goals of their departments, working together as a team on many initiatives with the shared goal of serving and protecting Pennsylvanians,” Governor Wolf said.
Dr. Rachel Levine, in addition to serving as Acting Secretary of Health since June, is also the state’s physician general, and a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine.
As physician general, Dr. Levine has made significant strides combating the opioid epidemic and advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ population. She spearheaded the efforts to establish opioid prescribing guidelines and establish opioid prescribing education for medical students.
She has also led an LGBTQ workgroup for the governor’s office, which has worked to create programs and processes that are fair and inclusive in healthcare, insurance, and many other areas. Recently, Dr. Levine was recognized as one of NBC’s Pride 30, a national list of 30 people who are both members of and making a difference in the lives of the LGBTQ community.
Her previous posts included vice -chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital-Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Dr. Levine graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine. She completed her training in pediatrics at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, followed by a fellowship in adolescent medicine there. She then practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine in New York City and was on the faculty of the Mt Sinai School of Medicine.
She came to central Pennsylvania in 1993 as the director of Ambulatory Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Polyclinic Medical Center. She joined the staff at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center in 1996 as the director of Pediatric Ambulatory Services and Adolescent Medicine.
In addition to her teaching role at the Penn State College of Medicine on topics in adolescent medicine, eating disorders and transgender medicine, she has lectured nationally and internationally and has published articles and chapters on these same topics.
Teresa D. Miller assumed duties as acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in August.
Previously, Miller served as Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner since January 2015, where she worked on a range of issues, including the administration’s top priorities – fighting the heroin and opioid epidemic and helping seniors.
Under her leadership, Miller made it clear that one of her top priorities at the Insurance Department was enforcing mental health parity laws, ensuring consumers have access to the mental health and substance use disorder treatments they need.
Teresa has been a leader in the Wolf Administration’s efforts to protect seniors. Her work to ensure seniors in Western Pennsylvania were protected and would not lose access to their doctors helped prevent disruption in care for 180,000 by ensuring UPMC providers continued participation in Highmark’s Medicare networks through the end of the consent decrees, which expire in 2019.
In 2017, Teresa was named chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Senior Issues Task Force. Also at the NAIC, Teresa has been a leader in taking on the current challenges of the long-term care insurance markets. At her request, the NAIC created the Long-Term Care Innovation Subgroup, which she chaired, to work to increase long-term care funding options for consumers, including increasing the number of affordable asset protection options.
Prior to coming to Pennsylvania, Miller served as acting director of the State Exchanges Group, the Oversight Group, and the Insurance Programs Group in the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington, D.C.
Before her work with the federal government, Miller worked in Oregon where she fought for state adoption of mental health parity legislation, representing drug and alcohol treatment providers, social workers, the Arc of Oregon and other advocates for people with disabilities. Then, as the insurance regulator in Oregon, she worked to ensure consumers received the benefits of that law.
Miller received her J.D. from Willamette University College of Law, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Pacific Lutheran University.
Jennifer Smith was appointed Acting Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs in January 2017. Prior to this, she served as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).
Smith began her career with the commonwealth in 2004 in the Office of the Budget, beginning as an accountant and eventually becoming the office’s Director of Planning and Management in 2012 before beginning as DDAP’s Deputy Secretary in 2015.
Since assuming the role of Acting Secretary, she has continued the Wolf Administration’s initiative to increase drug take-back opportunities, expand access to naloxone in communities around Pennsylvania, and, alongside the Pennsylvania Department of Health, released guidelines and protocols for “warm handoffs” that help overdose survivors transition into substance use disorder treatment.
Smith has also worked alongside Governor Wolf and other Wolf Administration Officials to ensure that fighting the opioid crisis remains a priority on the federal, state, and local levels. In 2017, the Wolf Administration secured a $26.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services as part of $1 billion included in the 21st Century CURES Act to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic and will be used by DDAP to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Jessica Altman was appointed Acting Insurance Commissioner in August. Prior to this, Ms. Altman served as Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department alongside former Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller, beginning in June 2015. In this position, Ms. Altman served as the top aide to former Commissioner Miller, oversaw policy initiatives for the agency, and coordinated policy with other state government agencies and external groups.
Altman represented the department in a number of statewide initiatives, including coordinating aspects of Health Innovation in Pennsylvania, which leverages funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ State Innovation Model Initiative and sitting as a board member for ABC-MAP, the commonwealth’s initiative to implement a prescription drug monitoring program. She is also an active member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and is vice-chair of the NAIC’s subgroup evaluating the definition of quality improvement activities for the medical loss ratio.
Prior to joining the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Altman worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, where she developed policy and facilitated implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In addition, she served as a policy analyst for the health division of the White House Office of Management and Budget while completing her master’s degree.
Altman has a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science in Policy Analysis and Management, with a concentration in Health Care Policy, from Cornell University.