Dr. Mandy Cohen was appointed to the role of Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in January 2017 by Governor Roy Cooper. Secretary Cohen and her team work tirelessly to improve the health, safety and well-being of all North Carolinians. DHHS has 17,000 employees and an annual budget of $20 billion serving as the home to NC Medicaid, Public Health, Mental Health/IDD/SUD, State Operated Hospitals and Facilities, Economic Services, Adult and Child Services, Early Childhood Education, Employment Services, and Health Services Regulation. Secretary Cohen and her team are focused on responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, building a robust, efficient Medicaid program, improving early childhood health, safety and education, combatting the opioid crisis, and ensuring equitable access to health resources.
Dr. Cohen leads the COVID-19 response for the State of North Carolina. Her team at NC DHHS oversees the operational response – including hospital surge capacity, testing capacity, tracing capacity, and PPE availability – in addition to constructing the advanced data infrastructure necessary to collect and analyze key data points to drive decision making. Secretary Cohen also leads the development of North Carolina policy guidance which informs the actions needed to slow COVID-19 spread.
Secretary Cohen has made closing the coverage gap in North Carolina a key priority. Additionally, Dr. Cohen’s “buying health” agenda heavily focuses on broad drivers of health (often referred to as the social determinants of health). Under Secretary Cohen’s leadership, North Carolina implemented the first-in-the-nation statewide coordinated care network, NCCARE360, to electronically connect those with identified needs to community resources and allow for a feedback loop on the outcome of that connection. This private-public partnership has been a key feature of NC’s COVID response and backbone to the innovative Health Opportunities pilot authorized under North Carolina’s 1115 Medicaid waiver.
Secretary Cohen is an internal medicine physician and has experience leading complex health organizations. Before coming to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, she was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). She brings a deep understanding of health care to the state and has been responsible for implementing policies for Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.