Our leadership

Sue Birch headshot

Sue Birch


Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Sue Birch to serve as HCA director on Jan. 1, 2018. As HCA director, she is focused on transforming the health care delivery system to better serve those for whom we purchase care, while keeping health care costs in check.

Before joining HCA, Sue spent nearly seven years as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, where she led the state’s successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A nurse by training, Sue also served as chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Why she works at HCA

It is an honor to be a public servant and an executive leader for health care policy and financing. I am passionate about working on behalf of the public and serving Washington residents.

Louis McDermott, interim director

Louis McDermott

Deputy director

Lou serves as HCA deputy director, providing leadership and oversight for central administrative services and employees and retirees benefits.

Lou led the HCA Employees and Retirees Benefits Division for five years, overseeing public employee insurance benefit programs that cover nearly 350,000 employees and retirees of state agencies, school districts, and other eligible public and tribal employer groups. He also led the implementation of an ambitious and innovative plan to enhance the state’s approach to worksite wellness.

A longtime public servant, Lou also has held management positions at the Department of Corrections and the Department of Social and Health Services.

Why he works for HCA

I want to contribute to the health and well-being of our fellow Washingtonians and I believe that this organization is uniquely situated to make that happen.

MaryAnne Lindeblad, state Medicaid director

MaryAnne Lindeblad

State Medicaid director

As state Medicaid director, MaryAnne oversees the Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) program, which serves more than 1.8 million Washington residents. The executive leaders for HCA’s Medicaid Eligibility and Community Support division and Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity division report to MaryAnne. MaryAnne serves on the executive committees of both the National Association of Medicaid Directors and the National Academy for State Health Policy. She also chairs the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Managed Care Technical Advisory Committee.

Why she works for HCA

I have the opportunity to work on challenging issues that reflect my passion of access to quality health care for all. I have focused on access issues most of my career, and find great satisfaction in working on initiatives that broaden access for more individuals. I also get to work with lots of really talented people at HCA!


Megan Atkinson

Chief financial officer

Megan served as chief financial officer for HCA from 2005-2008, and rejoined us in 2017. She most recently worked as assistant director for budget at the Department of Transportation, and also has held senior positions for both the Department of Social and Health Services Economic Services Administration, and the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The Financial Services Division manages multiple fiscal needs for the agency, including budget preparation and monitoring, accounting and payroll, forecasting, and rate setting.

Why she works for HCA

Working at HCA is a wonderful and challenging opportunity to work with very talented and dedicated individuals. I enjoy the intricacies of health care finance and purchasing, combined with our agency’s large and complex administrative budget.

Amy Blondin, chief communications officer

Amy Blondin

Chief communications officer

As the executive leader of HCA’s Communications Division since 2014, Amy helps share the story of the innovative work happening within HCA. Amy and her team manage strategic communications, media relations, online communications, marketing, language access, and graphic design, and partners with other HCA divisions to plan and execute communications plans and produce publications, forms, and other documents.

Why she works for HCA

I want to help decipher the complexities of health care on behalf of our customers.

Robert Bouffard, acting assistant director, Employee Resources Division

Robert Bouffard

Acting assistant director, Employee Resources Division

Robert joined HCA as human resources operations manager in 2015 before being appointed to acting assistant director for employee resources in 2016. Robert has more than 14 years of human resources experience, previously serving in leadership roles at the Department of Early Learning, Labor & Industries and the Department of Transportation. The Employee Resources Division manages human resources, facilities, safety and wellness, and mail and imaging services for HCA.

Why he works for HCA

I started my state service right out of college.  I am driven to improve lives of Washington State citizens and continue to work toward making a difference.

Rich Campbell, acting chief information officer

Rich Campbell

Acting chief information officer




Preston Cody, assistant director, Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity

Preston Cody

Assistant director, Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity

Preston has been the executive leader of HCA’s Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity division since 2010. This division operates family health care and non-emergency medical transportation services, oversees Medicaid outreach conducted by outside entities, manages grants, and oversees managed care contracts and chronic care management programs.

Why he works for HCA

I choose to work for HCA because I am passionate about the mission of the agency. It’s an honor to work in an organization that has the ability to provide services that improve health and save lives. The people who work for this agency are second to none. They are dedicated professionals who have a strong commitment to the people we serve.

Jody Costello, assistant director, Employee Resources Division

Jody Costello

Administrative services director, Central Services Administration

As administrative services director, Jody leads the Central Services Administration and is responsible for the complex operational components of the agency. The executive leaders for Legal Services, Information Technology, Employee Resources, Planning and Performance, and Provider One Operations and Services report to Jody.

Why she works for HCA

I have a strong commitment to public service and I am honored to serve the citizens of Washington State.  


Jessie Dean

Tribal Affairs administrator



Steve Dotson

Deputy assistant director, Division of Legal Services


Mary Fliss, deputy for Clinical Strategy and Operations

Mary Fliss

Deputy for clinical strategy and operations

As an executive leader in HCA’s Clinical Quality and Care Transformation division, Mary is responsible for strategic planning, operational oversight and support, project management, decision support, clinical contracting, and the prior authorization/clinical service review section. She manages professional clinical and non-clinical policy, IT, and operational staff, ensuring that needed strategy, systems, and infrastructure are in place to carry out the division’s work.

Why she works for HCA

Working here means I am part of creating a better system for care delivery. I also get to work with a great group of people who are working hard to make a healthier Washington.

Charissa Fotinos, deputy medical officer

Charissa Fotinos

Deputy chief medical officer

Dr. Fotinos has provided clinical leadership for Medicaid clients served by the HCA and DSHS since 2013.  Dually employed, much of her work focuses on improving clinical policy and the clinical quality of care delivered to persons with substance use disorders and/or mental health conditions.

Why she works at HCA

Everyone deserves access to quality, evidence-informed, financially responsible health care. Working with talented, creative, and passionate people who share this vision is a tremendous opportunity and pleasure.

Tamarra Henshaw, executive assistant to the director

Tamarra Henshaw

Executive assistant to the director

Tamarra provides strategic executive support to HCA’s Director and leads the team of executive assistants that supports agency leadership. After serving in administrative support roles at the Department of Social and Health Services, she joined the Health Care Authority in 2013. Tamarra has worked in state government for nearly two decades.

Why she works for HCA

I enjoy working for the Health Care Authority because I enjoy helping others. I believe that everyone in Washington State should receive health care and be able to purchase it at a cost that is affordable.

David Iseminger, acting director

David Iseminger

Director, Employees and Retirees Benefits Division

As the Employees and Retirees Benefits (PEB) Division’s deputy director, Dave supervises and sponsors operations, account maintenance and customer service for retirees and self-pay members, outreach and training for benefits staff at state agencies and higher education institutions, rulemaking and administrative policymaking, and benefits eligibility appeals. He has worked with the ERB Division in various capacities since February 2012, first as an assistant attorney general, next as an agency legal manager, and now as the deputy director.

Why he works for HCA

Ensuring PEBB Program members have access to the best and most robust benefits possible is a rewarding experience. Being able to improve benefits that are accessed during challenging circumstances—whether as part of an emergency room visit, as the result of a recent disability, or after the death of a loved one—is an important responsibility that keeps me motivated to do my best every day. I love coming to work each day because HCA and PEB staff are so committed to ensuring the best experience for Washingtonians.

Kari Karch, division director, Planning and Performance Division

Kari Karch

Director, Planning and Performance Division

As leader of the Planning and Performance Division, Kari leads organizational development, strategic planning, and continuous quality improvement efforts at HCA. She helps ensure that HCA monitors its performance using an outcomes-based management system and takes action to improve when needed. She also oversees HCA's Lean program.

Why she works for HCA

Because I am passionate about health care and I want to make a difference. At HCA, I have the opportunity to support our staff and programs as we purchase health care for nearly one-third of our state.


Taylor Linke

Deputy director, Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity Division

As the Medicaid Program Operations and Integrity (MPOI) Division’s deputy director, Taylor is responsible for strategic planning, project management, performance measurement, and the Medicaid claims section. She focuses on developing a high value benefit program for staff, while applying systems thinking and continuous quality improvement efforts to refine processes in order to better support the work carried out in the division.

Why she works for HCA

Having previously worked at the Department of Health for 11 years, I have a passion for public service, specifically with improving work processes to support the health care delivery system. My personal passion seemed to align nicely with the direction of the HCA, and I am thankful every day that I am surrounded by so many other inspiring leaders who truly believe in the work we do.

Dr. Dan Lessler, chief medical officer

Dr. Dan Lessler

Chief medical officer

Dr. Lessler has been HCA’s chief medical officer since 2013. He is the executive leader of the Clinical Quality and Care Transformation division, leads clinical policy decision-making for the Health Care Authority, and helps ensure HCA’s decisions lead to high-quality care for the more than 2 million Washington residents for whom the agency purchases health care.

Why he works for HCA

As a primary care physician with 21 years of practice experience at a safety net institution, I believe strongly in the vision and mission of HCA.


Mich’l Needham

Chief policy officer, Policy Division

Mich’l serves as the chief policy officer for the agency, overseeing policy innovation and new projects seeking to transform the health care delivery system through the Medicaid and PEBB programs. The policy division also oversees legislative relations and legislative policy, and supports policy and program development throughout the agency. She joined the agency in 2017, and most recently served as the senior policy analyst for the Senate Health Care Committee overseeing federal health care issues, including Medicaid and the Health Benefit Exchange, as well as commercial insurance.

Why she works for HCA

I am passionate about the opportunities to improve access to health care, while working on options to reform the delivery system and payment of care. HCA offers a great opportunity to influence health care purchasing and work with a range of dynamic issues.

Cathie Ott, director, ProviderOne Operations and Services

Cathie Ott

Director, ProviderOne Operations and Services

As the director of the Division of ProviderOne Operations and Services, Cathie leads a team responsible for providing a secure and reliable Medicaid payment system with high availability and reliability to internal users. ProviderOne must pay Medicaid providers on time and accurately and must be responsive to the changing requirements of delivery system transformation and healthcare reform.

Why she works for HCA

I have the chance to be involved every day in the development of creative strategies that address challenging issues and ultimately impact the ability of citizens to access public services.


Scott Palafox

Acting deputy director, Employees and Retirees Benefits Division

Scott oversees the teams responsible for communications, rules and policies, outreach and training, benefits eligibility appeals, account maintenance, and the customer service section for retirees and self-pay members. He has worked for HCA since 2002, first in the Medicaid program, and transferred into the PEBB Program in May 2014 as the Section Manager for the Portfolio Management and Monitoring section.

Why he works for HCA

The health care industry is constantly evolving, so I look forward to coming to work each day to face the challenges brought forth by new initiatives, and engaging in discussions on how we can continue to help improve the overall well-being of our members and their families. It's also important to recognize the differences in the health care needs for those we serve, to ensure we are making the best decisions with the best outcomes.


Annette Schuffenhauer, chief legal officer

Annette Schuffenhauer

Chief legal officer

Annette has served as HCA’s chief legal officer and executive leader of HCA’s Division of Legal Services (DLS) since 2013. DLS is responsible for agency-wide rule making, administrative policies and procedures, contracting/purchasing/procurement, adjudicative hearings, enterprise risk management, and legal services.

Why she works for HCA

I choose to work at HCA because I have a passion for ensuring that our customers receive quality health care through the various programs we administer.

Kathy Smith, audit and accountability manager

Kathy Smith

Audit and accountability manager

Kathy has served as HCA's internal auditor and executive leader of the Office of Audit and Accountability since 2014. This office provides objective, professional analyses of selected agency operations and processes.

Why she works for HCA

HCA has a national reputation for providing high-quality services in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment. We successfully implement large, complex programs and system upgrades that contribute to better health care, processes, and information for health care providers and other stakeholders. Because of HCA’s efforts, Washington citizens, including me and my family, are well cared for. That’s important. And that’s why I work here.

Mary Wood, assistant director, Medicaid Eligibility and Community Support

Mary Wood

Assistant director, Medicaid Eligibility and Community Support

Mary has served as the executive leader for the Medicaid Eligibility and Community Support division since 2014. This is the largest HCA division, encompassing the Medical Assistance Customer Service Center, Office of Medicaid Eligibility and Policy, and Office of Medical Eligibility Determination Services. Mary also serves as the state’s CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Director.

Why she works for HCA

After nearly 20 years working eligibility, cash, food and Medicaid, I really wanted to focus on Medicaid eligibility and ensure families had access to care.

Carl Yanagida, deputy chief financial officer

Carl Yanagida

Deputy chief financial officer

Carl serves as deputy chief financial officer, providing oversight of the agency’s financial operations, including external relations, quality assurance, and staff development.

Why he works at HCA

I believe that access to quality, comprehensive health care throughout one’s entire life is a basic human need, not an indulgence. The mission, vision, and size of our Health Care Authority uniquely places it as an evolutionary influence in our communities, state, and nation … a catalyst that can help to transform our health care system to one that properly prioritizes such care as a right. More selfishly, I like working with big numbers and lots of data. I love observing the process of converting raw financial data into actionable business intelligence.

Laura Kate Zaichkin, deputy chief policy officer

Laura Kate Zaichkin

Deputy chief policy officer, Policy Division

As the deputy of HCA’s Policy Division, Laura leads policy development and deployment, performance management, legislative and tribal affairs, and a variety of strategic initiatives. She also serves as coordinator of Healthier Washington, the state’s multi-agency, public-private initiative aimed at health systems transformation, funded in part through a four-year federal State Innovation Models grant and five-year federal Medicaid demonstration waiver.

What I work at HCA

I appreciate the opportunity to advance better care, smarter spending and healthier populations through strategies HCA can uniquely influence as the largest purchaser of health care coverage in Washington state and convener of strategic partners who are working together for a healthier Washington.