As health care consultant Seema Verma awaits final Senate confirmation in her bid to become director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and amid continued questions about what “repeal and replace” will mean for health IT, President Trump has reportedly selected a second in command for the agency.
Washington-based attorney Demetrios Kouzoukas, as Politico and others first reported, is Trump’s pick for deputy CMS administrator. A longtime specialist in the area of health insurance law, Kouzoukas was most recently the general counsel for United Health Care; before that, he was of counsel at Covington & Burling. After Trump was elected president, he named Kouzoukas, a longtime donor to Republican campaigns, to his health care transition team.
While he’ll be new to this particular role, Kouzoukas is no stranger to the D.C. health policy world. During the George W. Bush administration, he served for six years as principal associate deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as deputy general counsel for HHS. Perhaps most notably for those in the telehealth community, Kouzoukas appears to be deeply familiar with the world of health IT.
His Health Lawyers bio notes that one of his responsibilities at HHS involved the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). As former colleague David Brailer, Bush’s first ONC head, told Politico, “Demetrios was indeed highly involved in a number of our efforts. He is smart, thoughtful and results-oriented.” For those concerned about a potential lack of commitment to advancing health IT in the new administration, Kouzoukas’ appointment could be a step in the right direction.