Lee Fleisher ML ’24 has been appointed Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Fleisher credits his experience in the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Master in Law program with helping him land the job and hit the ground running.
“CMS is a regulatory agency, and the ML classes ‘Navigating the Regulatory State’ and ‘American Constitutional Law’ helped me understand our role in rulemaking,” Fleisher said. “Having that baseline knowledge was viewed as a positive when applying for the position and quickly getting up to speed.”
His more than 30 years’ experience in medicine and academia were undoubtedly viewed as a positive as well. Fleisher has been a Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Perelman School of Medicine since 2004. Before coming to Penn, he taught at Johns Hopkins University for a decade. Throughout his career, Fleisher has been a pioneer of quality-of-care measurement, coverage decisions, and evidence-based medicine, and has published nine books and over 200 scholarly articles on these subjects. He enrolled in the ML program, he said, “to be better prepared to take on leadership in the quality-of-care space.”
Fleisher will step into the CMO role at a particularly challenging moment — nursing home residents, many of whom depend on Medicare, have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis, with some estimates linking them to more than 40% of all deaths attributed to the virus. Low-income people who rely on Medicaid have also been disproportionately impacted.
Announcing his appointment, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said that “today, more than ever, this country needs unwavering, steadfast leadership from CMS. Physicians and other healthcare professionals always bring a unique and valuable perspective to the policy-making table, and Dr. Fleisher represents the very top of his field. His inclusion on the team will set CMS’s pandemic response up for continued success as America’s fight against the virus continues into the fall.”
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