The members of DeBrunner & Associates’ consulting staff bring years of experience and an exceptionally high level of expertise to their work.


Ellen Kugler, Esq.

Ellen Kugler is the managing director of DeBrunner & Associates’ federal health policy consulting practice in Washington, D.C. A principal of the firm, she is an expert in government health care policy, especially Medicare and Medicaid, and represents a broad range of health care clients on a variety of issues before Congress and the administration. Ellen is skilled in legislative drafting, has extensive contacts on Capitol Hill, is a seasoned lobbyist, and enjoys an excellent track record for helping her clients obtain federal program and demonstration grants, much-needed legislative and regulatory changes, and increases in their Medicare area wage indexes. She also works with providers in states developing Medicaid waivers.  Over the years she has helped countless health care organizations forge better, more productive relationships with their elected officials in Washington. Ellen also serves as executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals, one of DeBrunner & Associates’ largest clients.

Prior to joining DeBrunner & Associates, Ellen served on the congressional staffs of prominent members of the health subcommittees of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She has now worked as a lobbyist and health policy consultant for more than 20 years. A lawyer by training, Ellen is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and previously earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban planning from the University of California at Berkeley.


Michael Chirieleison

Michael Chirieleison is an expert on Medicaid policy, reimbursement, and practices and serves as the managing director of DeBrunner & Associates’ health policy consulting practice in Pennsylvania. He has extensive relationships throughout Pennsylvania’s state government – in both the executive and legislative branches and on both sides of the political aisle. He works closely with the firm’s Pennsylvania clients, develops their policy and legislative strategies, and directs DeBrunner & Associates’ Pennsylvania lobbying. Mike is a respected source of information and expertise on the state’s Medical Assistance program and has 15 years of policy development and consulting experience. He has been a guest presenter at hospital board meetings and Healthcare Financial Management Association events in recent years, speaking on matters such as the impact of the Pennsylvania state budget on hospital finances and Medical Assistance reimbursement issues. He also serves as president of the Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania, one of DeBrunner & Associates’ largest clients.

Mike joined DeBrunner & Associates after serving on the staff of a prominent member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and working as a legislative liaison for the state Treasury Department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Franklin & Marshall College and has completed course work toward a master’s degree in health administration at Pennsylvania State University.


Charles DeBrunner

Charles DeBrunner began his health policy career with Pennsylvania’s state Medicaid agency, where he served as a policy analyst and then as director of the agency’s division of policy development. There, he worked on hospital reimbursement policies and served as principal architect of the state’s Medicaid DRG system. After serving as vice president of finance of the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania, Charlie embarked on a career as a private health policy consultant and in 1995 launched his own consulting firm. He also was the founding executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals and the Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania. 

Charlie has more than 30 years of experience working in health care policy, consulting, policy development, and advocacy, with a special emphasis on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. He has consulted for hospitals, groups of hospitals, long-term-care providers, and other health care organizations throughout the U.S. Charlie graduated from Susquehanna University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned a master’s degree in public administration from Pennsylvania State University, where he also served on the research faculty.


Joan Bradbury

Joan Bradbury is a senior associate in DeBrunner & Associates’ Pennsylvania health care consulting practice. In this capacity she monitors state administrative, regulatory, and legislative developments for initiatives with a potential impact on the firm’s Pennsylvania clients.  Joan serves as a liaison between the firm and its clients, helping them understand policy matters with a potential impact on their operations and identify and refine their public policy objectives.  She then works with those clients to develop and execute strategies for achieving their objectives, including by lobbying on their behalf before the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the state’s executive branch, including the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health, and other agencies.

Joan joined DeBrunner & Associates from LeadingAge PA, where she served as a public policy analyst, regulatory affairs manager, and legislative affairs manager. Previously, she worked as a policy analyst for PAR – Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities.  Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at Bloomsburg University and a master’s degree in social service and another master’s in law and social policy from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.


Ben DeBrunner

Ben DeBrunner is director of policy analysis, focusing on state and federal policy and regulatory changes with potential implications for the firm’s clients. He monitors the release of federal regulations governing Medicare and Medicaid and analyzes those that have a potential impact on clients. He is especially involved in monitoring new regulations and policies issued as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Ben also is a key member of the firm’s Medicare wage index team, helping clients explore the potential benefits of pursuing wage index reclassification and, if that proves feasible, helping them identify the best reclassification opportunity and develop a persuasive case for reclassification. For Pennsylvania clients he attends state budget, legislative, and advisory committee hearings, responds to client inquiries about Medical Assistance and state health care practices and policies, and plays a major role in evaluating the potential impact of state budget and legislative proposals on client finances. Ben works directly with the firm’s clients on many financial and regulatory matters.

Ben graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts.


Kate Finkelstein

Kate Finkelstein is a senior associate in DeBrunner & Associates' federal health care consulting practice in Washington, D.C. In this role she monitors health policy and legislative developments of potential importance to the firm’s federal clients and plays a key role in helping those clients shape and implement their response to those developments. Kate also uses her extensive network of contacts on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress and the administration and is responsible for monitoring the activities of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. She also has primary responsibility for monitoring federal agencies for grant and other funding opportunities for her clients and for helping those clients pursue targeted funds. Kate serves as a key liaison between the firm’s clients and their elected members of Congress and also develops presentations for her clients to share with their management staff and boards of directors.

Kate has an extensive background in the health care field through past employment with the Georgetown University Medical Center, the George Washington University Medical Center, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Lamar University and earned a master's degree in library and information science from Louisiana State University.


Joseph Steinbock

Joseph Steinbock is DeBrunner & Associates’ staff writer. He prepares position papers, policy documents, press releases, newsletters, presentations, and other documents and contributes to the firm’s web site as well as the web sites of the firm’s association clients.

Joe has spent most of the past 30 years as a public policy writer, including for health care providers, health policy consultants, and government relations consultants. He also has extensive experience as a grant writer and in preparing responses to requests for proposals from both the public and private sectors. Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.


James A. Tomkins

James Tomkins is DeBrunner & Associates' director of data and information services. In this capacity he conceives, develops, and maintains the firm’s numerous databases and oversees its data analysis and policy development activities. He models the potential financial impact on clients of proposed state and federal legislation, regulations, and budgets – especially proposals that would affect how Medicare and Medicaid pay health care providers; analyzes the potential impact of hospital mergers on Medicare and Medicaid revenue and eligibility for supplemental payments; performs side-by-side, regional, and state-wide comparisons of provider financial performance that clients use for marketing and competitive purposes; and prepares responses to requests from members of Congress about the impact of legislative and regulatory proposals on their constituents.

Jim joined DeBrunner & Associates after more than seven years with the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), where he worked first as manager of data collection and then as director of data and information services. He also has served as manager of marketing and product planning for the Hamot Medical Center, in Erie, Pennsylvania, and as a project manager and statistical analyst for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Jim has bachelor's degrees in statistics and economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a master's degree in health services administration from Gannon University, and a master's degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.