Press Releases
June 21, 2021

Better Medicare Alliance Names Mary Beth Donahue as President and CEO

Former HHS Chief of Staff and patient advocate tapped to lead BMA’s community of 160 Ally organizations and more than 500,000 grassroots advocates supporting Medicare Advantage

Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance, the leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, announced the selection of health policy veteran and patient advocacy leader Mary Beth Donahue as President and CEO, effective later this summer.

Donahue brings to the role nearly a decade of leadership in public service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), culminating as Chief of Staff to HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala during the critical early days of Medicare Advantage as “Medicare+Choice.”

Most recently, Donahue served as Executive Director of Kidney Care Partners, a coalition of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers, researchers, and manufacturers dedicated to improving quality of care for individuals living with kidney diseases.

A leader in patient advocacy and health equity, Donahue has additionally served on the Board of Directors for Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering children to develop lifelong healthy habits. She recently completed six years of service as an Advisory Council Member to the Cancer Support Community.

Donahue is also the past Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Operations of AHIP, the trade association representing companies providing health insurance coverage in the United States. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University’s McCourt School where she recently served on the Alumni Board of Directors.

Donahue is a native of Massachusetts and lives in Maryland with her two daughters. Her hire comes after Better Medicare Alliance’s founding President and CEO, Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz, announced plans earlier this year to depart the organization after more than six years of leadership.

“We are deeply grateful that Mary Beth answered the call to serve as Better Medicare Alliance’s next President and CEO, bringing with her nearly three decades of unrivaled management and policy expertise, and a distinguished career on the frontlines of patient advocacy,” said Kenneth Thorpe, PhD, Chair of the Better Medicare Alliance Board of Directors and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. “We look forward to working with Mary Beth to build on the legacy and successes of Congresswoman Schwartz in order to grow and strengthen the care, coverage, and benefits that 26.5 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries rely on today.”

“Having been part of the senior leadership team at HHS during Medicare Advantage’s earliest days when it was signed into law, the opportunity to serve as President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance is truly a full-circle moment,” said Mary Beth Donahue, incoming President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “As Americans begin to re-emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we will ensure that Medicare Advantage is ready and able to help beneficiaries navigate the road ahead while continuing to offer the better outcomes, lower costs, and high satisfaction that are hallmarks of the program today.”

Health care leaders from within and outside the Better Medicare Alliance community celebrated Donahue’s hire, including:

“As Secretary of HHS, I was proud to have a capable and skilled Chief of Staff in Mary Beth. She played a critical role in so many of our Administration’s key successes and I’m delighted to see her selected to lead Better Medicare Alliance into the future,” said Former Secretary of HHS and Congresswoman Donna E. Shalala. “Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are truly fortunate to have a leader and consensus builder like Mary Beth advocating on their behalf.”

“As BMA enters its next chapter, ensuring its role in advocating for Medicare Advantage’s innovative integrated coverage and care for millions of beneficiaries is as important as ever,” said Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz, founding President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “I look forward to seeing BMA continue its leadership role in research, policy, and advocacy that enhances policymakers’ support for Medicare Advantage.”

“As a founding BMA Ally organization, National Hispanic Medical Association congratulates Mary Beth on her selection as President and CEO,” said Elena Rios, MD, President and CEO of National Hispanic Medical Association. “Mary Beth’s experience demonstrates she can be a trusted advocate for patients and has a willingness to listen to and stand up for the 53% of Latinx Medicare beneficiaries who choose Medicare Advantage and want to see their coverage protected. We look forward to working alongside her as we each seek to improve health care quality, affordability, and equity for all.”   

“The kidney care community benefitted from the dedicated and skilled leadership of Mary Beth Donahue as Executive Director of Kidney Care Partners,” said LaVarne A. Burton, President and CEO of the American Kidney Fund and Chairperson-Elect of the National Health Council. “Mary Beth has spent her career in leadership roles for organizations focused on improving health outcomes, addressing health disparities, and empowering individuals to lead healthier lives. I wish her and Better Medicare Alliance the very best in this exciting new chapter.”

“The more than 26.5 million seniors and Americans with disabilities who choose Medicare Advantage today need a champion who will fight to protect the coverage they count on and deserve. Mary Beth will be that champion,” said Former George W. Bush Administration CMS Administrator Tom Scully. “I congratulate Mary Beth on her selection as Better Medicare Alliance’s President and CEO. The health care system is better for her continued involvement and advocacy.”

“I congratulate Mary Beth on this well-deserved new role as President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. Having known her and the Better Medicare Alliance community for years, there’s no question that she is the right person to lead the organization into the future,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Morgan Health at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and founder of Avalere Health. “Mary Beth not only has the knowledge of Medicare policy, she has the leadership skills and the proven experience to bring together diverse stakeholders and broad coalitions to get the job done.”

“I’ve known Mary Beth for years and am delighted to continue working alongside her in her new role as President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance,” said Pamela Greenberg, President and CEO of the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness. “Mary Beth has a keen appreciation for the role of behavioral health in Medicare Advantage and will be an unrelenting advocate for protecting the benefits that seniors rely on to meet these health needs.”

“ChenMed greatly values our partnership with Better Medicare Alliance and looks forward to a continuation of that relationship under Mary Beth’s leadership,” said Christopher Chen, MD, CEO of ChenMed. “We share a belief that Medicare Advantage’s integrated, value-based care is truly the future of Medicare. Mary Beth clearly has the experience and leadership to make this case to policymakers on behalf of beneficiaries. We know great things are ahead for the Better Medicare Alliance community.”

“Better Medicare Alliance is fortunate to have a leader of Mary Beth’s caliber at the helm of the organization during such a pivotal time for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries,”
said Mary R. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council. “Healthcare Leadership Council will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Better Medicare Alliance to protect and strengthen Medicare Advantage for today’s seniors and tomorrow’s enrollees.”

“As Medicare Advantage continues to enroll more and more beneficiaries, Mary Beth’s leadership comes at a critical time to ensure flexibility, lower costs, and added benefits for seniors,” said Joel White, President of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage“Mary Beth recognizes the importance of value-based care and is a dedicated patient advocate with a unique ability to reach across political and industry lines to galvanize support for beneficiaries and protect seniors’ choices in health coverage. I look forward to working with her.”


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