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October 16, 2023 / 2023 Power 25 Health Care

2023 Power 25 Health Care: Dr. Deidre Gifford

Dr. Deidre Gifford is the executive director of the state’s Office of Health Strategy, the agency responsible for overseeing Connecticut’s healthcare industry.

OHS oversees healthcare-related expansions, contractions and mergers, including Yale New Haven Health’s pending proposal to acquire Manchester Memorial, Rockville General and Waterbury hospitals.

The high-profile position doesn’t come without the potential for criticism. For example, concerns have been raised about the amount of time it has taken OHS to weigh in on Yale New Haven Health’s proposed acquisition of the financially ailing hospitals.

The Connecticut Hospital Association also recently called for an overhaul of the state’s healthcare regulatory approval process, citing concerns about delays and costs.

Gifford also serves as a senior advisor to Gov. Ned Lamont on health and human services issues. She played a key role in shaping significant reforms approved by the legislature earlier this year that aim to reduce healthcare costs and improve the delivery of patient care.

The reforms range from eliminating certain hospital facility fees to reining in aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing practices and restricting anticompetitive contracting practices employed by providers.

Gifford said hospital inpatient and outpatient costs and pharmaceutical prices are the largest drivers of the state’s healthcare affordability problem, but she’s been careful not to lay blame on any single stakeholder.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gifford served as a member of Lamont’s team in planning and implementing the state’s response to the public health emergency. In May 2020, when the pandemic was worsening, Lamont appointed Gifford to lead the Department of Public Health as acting commissioner.

Gifford also led the state Department of Social Services between June 2019 and January 2023.

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