The first eight years of a child’s life are intrinsically tied to future health and development. Countless data suggests that there is an undeniable link between socioeconomics, health and professional achievement. To improve access to health care, public health authorities say we will have to address all existing social disparities and improve health systems. Join Washington Post Live on Friday, Nov. 12 at 11:00 a.m. ET in conversation with Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, James Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Kawsar Talaat, MD, vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, about children’s health equity, maternal health and the path forward to ensuring greater health outcomes for children.


“The virus, not the vaccine, is leading to workers not being able to go to work…. We really wanted to make sure that people are safe and we know how much health care workers care about making sure their patients are safe.” (Washington Post Live)
“We are at such a critical moment in health care policy because over the last year and a half, eyes have been opened to these disparities… It shows an opportunity where we see what this means as a country when… these gaps in our healthcare system, what they actually mean in terms of peoples’ lives and also what it means in terms of our own health as a nation… We have an incredible opportunity to move the needle on what are appalling numbers in our country on maternal mortality.” (Washington Post Live)
“Vaccines are a really good way to improve equity very quickly because… you only need a vaccine once or twice in your life to prevent a disease from happening ever... If you can prevent that, it will take away the extra burden of having to seek healthcare for people who have less access.” (Washington Post Live)
“The evidence is really very very strong about the tremendous value of vaccines. On the other hand, there have been many people who have raised questions about the health care professions in general and worried about them. Many of our, especially poorer families of color have a history of bad experiences at the hands of the health profession and still some hesitancy in believing what they’re getting is the right thing. So I think that does play a role in some of this hesitancy as well.” (Washington Post Live)

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where she will oversee programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the health insurance marketplace.

A former policy official who played a key role in guiding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through passage and implementation, Brooks-LaSure has decades of experience in the federal government, on Capitol Hill, and in the private sector.

As deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and earlier at the Department of Health & Human Services as director of coverage policy, Brooks-LaSure led the agency’s implementation of ACA coverage and insurance reform policy provisions.

Earlier in her career, Brooks-LaSure assisted House leaders in passing several health care laws, including the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 and the ACA, as part of the Democratic staff for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee.

Brooks-LaSure began her career as a program examiner and lead Medicaid analyst for the Office of Management and Budget, coordinating Medicaid policy development for the health financing branch. Her role included evaluating policy options and briefing White House and federal agency officials on policy recommendations with regard to the uninsured, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

James M. Perrin, MD

James M. Perrin, MD, is professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and former director of the Division of General Pediatrics at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children. He holds the John C. Robinson Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics at the MGH. He was president (2014) of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chair of its Committee on Children with Disabilities, and past president of the Ambulatory (Academic) Pediatric Association. He directed the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health for seven years. Dr. Perrin was founding editor of Academic Pediatrics. He has studied asthma, middle ear disease, children’s hospitalizations, health insurance, and childhood chronic illness and disabilities. A recent focus has addressed improving Medicaid for younger people in Massachusetts and nationally. He received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and was a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality National Advisory Council. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He has been on several national committees relating to children and youth with special health care needs and their families, including with the National Academies’ Board on Children, Youth, and Families. He has served on the boards of Family Voices, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (University of North Carolina), and the Institute for Exceptional Care. He graduated from Harvard College and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, followed by residency and fellowship at the University of Rochester and prior faculty appointments at Rochester and Vanderbilt. While at Rochester, he developed a community health center in rural communities between Rochester and Buffalo.

Kawsar Talaat, MD

Kawsar Talaat, MD, is a physician who is board certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases and whose research focuses on vaccines. Currently, she’s the Johns Hopkins site-PI for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial, which is currently enrolling children as young as 6 months old. With extensive work in the area of vaccine safety, Dr. Talaat is the Johns Hopkins PI for the CDC Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment project.

Content from United Health Foundation

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Washington Post Live)

In this conversation, we speak to Margaret-Mary Wilson, MD, executive vice president and associate chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group, and Hope Rhodes, MD, MPH, co-medical director of the Healthy Generations program at Children’s National Hospital about the partnership, efforts to advance health equity and the key drivers to improving health outcomes within underserved communities.

Hope E. Rhodes, MD, MPH

Hope E. Rhodes, MD, MPH, has served as a community pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC since 2010. In 2021, she became the Medical Director of the Children’s National Health Center at THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus). She also manages the Mobile Medical Program. She is committed to providing quality, culturally competent care to children from under-resourced communities who are disparately impacted by various health outcomes. She has harnessed the power of community partnerships to co-lead many initiatives from within the primary care medical home including the Healthy Generations Program (serving adolescent parents and their children); reproductive health programming (including successful implementation of Title X initiatives and reproductive health case management services) and early childhood development programming. During the COVID19 pandemic, she has revitalized the Mobile Medical program to bridge gaps in care for families throughout D.C. alongside neighborhood champions and partners from the education sector.

She is a graduate of Howard University College of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also a senior Health Equity Atlantic Fellow, which is a global community committed to addressing various forms of inequities.

Margaret-Mary G. Wilson, MD

Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson is executive vice president and associate chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group. Prior to joining UnitedHealthcare in 2008, Margaret-Mary was an associate professor of Internal and Geriatric Medicine at St. Louis University, Missouri, where she also served as director of Geriatric Ambulatory Services and director of the Ortho-Geriatric Service. Her experience also includes direct patient care, medical education, patient safety, quality improvement, risk management, and global healthcare systems management in a variety of health care settings in Africa, the United Kingdom, South America and the United States.

She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Healthcare Quality Management, and completed a Clinical Cardiology fellowship at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith Hospital, U.K. Margaret-Mary is a member of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom and a fellow of the American Institute of Healthcare Quality, the American Board of Quality Assurance & Utilization Review Physicians, and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. Margaret-Mary holds a Master’s in Business Administration with a specialization in Healthcare Management.

Margaret-Mary has received numerous awards in medicine, including UnitedHealth Group’s inaugural Sages Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award, the Kathy Humphrey Award for Excellence in the promotion of cultural diversity in medical education, the St. Louis University William Osler Teaching Award for excellence in clinical teaching, the Gladney Diversity Award for outstanding performance as a medical educator and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Chevening Award. She received a 2019 Business of Pride award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and was named a 2018 “Woman Worth Watching” by Diversity Journal. In 2021, Margaret-Mary was named one of the Top 100 most influential African Americans in Business by the National Diversity Council and one of the Top 100 elite women in 2021 by Diversity Journal. Margaret-Mary has published more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and textbooks.

Moderated by Jeanne Meserve

Jeanne Meserve is a homeland security expert and analyst, moderator, and award-winning journalist. She is currently a Security Expert for Canada’s CTV News and co-host of the SpyTalk podcast. While a correspondent and anchor at CNN and ABC Jeanne earned her profession’s highest honors, including two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She also contributed to two CNN Peabody Awards. Jeanne is a member of the Homeland Security Experts Group and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, and serves on the board of the non-profit Space Foundation. She moderates discussions on topics ranging from technology and security, to medicine and the environment. Her clients include AtlanticLIVE, Washington Post Live, the Munich Security Conference, the Halifax International Security Forum, and the global conferences of the International Women’s Forum. At CNN Meserve created the homeland security beat, covering intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She anchored worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana, and was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She was a key member of the CNN political team during the 1996 and 2000 elections. While at ABC News she covered the State Department and reported from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.