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 a partner and the managing director of DeBrunner & Associates’ federal health policy consulting practice in Washington, D.C. 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 Alliance of Private Safety-Net 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 25 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 is a partner and the managing director of DeBrunner & Associates’ health policy consulting practice in Pennsylvania. An expert on Medicaid policy, reimbursement, and practices, 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 more than 20 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.
Chris Beck is DeBrunner & Associates’ director of state government relations. In this role he serves as the firm’s liaison with the Pennsylvania General Assembly and key administration officials. Chris is responsible for understanding the legislative and political environment, assessing how they affect the firm’s clients, and developing and implementing tailored strategies to achieve clients’ public policy and legislative goals. He monitors the introduction and progress of legislation and closely follows legislative activity, including committee proceedings, the annual budget process, and other legislative activity. Chris works closely with the firm’s clients to develop relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle, key legislative staff, and administration officials.
Chris has an extensive background in government relations and health care policy. Prior to joining DeBrunner & Associates he spent nearly a decade developing, managing, and executing government relations strategies for Vertex, a biopharmaceutical company, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and most recently served as director of public affairs for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Before working in government relations, Chris was an aide to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Chris graduated from Drexel University with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science.
Ben DeBrunner is the firm’s director of policy analysis, focusing on state and federal legislative, policy, and regulatory changes with potential implications for the firm’s clients. In this role Ben is responsible for understanding the policy environment; analyzing new and emerging policy directions and assessing how they will affect the firm’s clients; identifying the potential problems, opportunities, and options those new policy directions pose; and developing a policy foundation for the firm’s strategic responses to those changes on behalf of its clients. Ben also assists clients with specific Medicaid and Medicare payment and regulatory problems at both the state and federal levels, working closely with clients, and 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.
Ben graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
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 (MACPAC), 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 also works as deputy executive director of the National Alliance of Private Safety-Net Hospitals.
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.
Janel Gleeson is DeBrunner & Associates’ senior policy analyst, focusing on state and federal policy and regulatory changes with potential implications for the firm’s clients. She monitors the release of federal regulations governing Medicare and Medicaid and analyzes and reports on those that have a potential impact on clients. For Pennsylvania clients she attends state budget, legislative, and advisory committee hearings, performs policy, regulatory, and legislative research in response 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.
Janel joined DeBrunner & Associates from the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, where she spent four years as the organization’s public policy director. Before that she worked for the Pennsylvania Bar Association as its legislative counsel and for LeadingAge PA as regulatory affairs manager. Janel is a graduate of Dickinson College and Penn State Dickinson Law, after which she clerked for the Court of Common Pleas in Adams County, Pennsylvania.
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 35 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.
Charles DeBrunner – Our Founder
Charles DeBrunner launched DeBrunner & Associates as the culmination of a distinguished career in health policy, beginning in Pennsylvania’s state Medicaid program, where he was the 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 with a national consulting practice. He also was the founding executive director of the National Association of Urban Hospitals (now the National Alliance of Private Safety-Net Hospitals) and the Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania.
The firm Charlie established remains very much in his image today: creative; deeply invested in the nuts and bolts of state and federal health care policy; resourceful in its use of data as a tool for both policy analysis and policy development; highly focused on effective communication with public officials and forceful advocacy; and committed to improving the ability of its clients to serve their patients and consumers. Charlie continues to employ this approach today in his “retirement” through his work as the elected controller of the city of Harrisburg.