VOL. 109 | NO. 9 | Monday, October 16, 1995
10/13 jts Lawhead appointment
County health official to advise national organization
By JAMES SNYDER
The Daily News
The National Association of Counties (NACo) appointed Memphian Nancy Lawhead to its Health Steering Committee late last month, adding the Shelby County health policy adviser to a post once occupied by her boss, Mayor Jim Rout.
Lawhead joins 60 members on the committee and seven other Shelby County officials at NACo, including former county commissioner Ed Williams and commissioner Tom Jones.
The Health Steering Committee recommends health care legislation covering the poor, the uninsured, Medicaid and Medicare. It also studies health issues such as psychiatric care, substance abuse and mental and developmental disabilities.
Lawhead, currently special assistant to the mayor for health policy, brings a background in medical and mental health administration to her new appointment. She served as head of the Community Health Agency, vice president for operations at Health Industries of America Inc., executive director of the Midtown Mental Health Center and worked extensively with Gov. Lamar Alexanders Job Conference during the 1980s.
Lawhead said she views the appointment as a two-way street, where she can take experience to NACo and bring home knowledge of national health initiatives that impact the county. Thats particularly important, she said, during the fast-paced changes in new Congress, which is considering cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
"We need to make sure were aware of the changes that are going to be developing," Lawhead said. "TennCare came down pretty quickly, without much warning. I want to learn about whats going on first-hand where the block grants are going to be coming down, whats the content going to be, how can we be ready in Shelby County to respond and be pro-active."
"Its a respected position that has a great deal of influence," said Rout, the committees vice-chair in the late 1980s. Thats a particularly important point given that most public hospitals in the country are run by county governments, such as The Med, Rout said.
"Lawhead brings a very broad-based knowledge of health care in the public arena," Rout said. "She has the tremendous credentials to take ideas and information and be a value at national discussions."
Lawheads appointment came after the county recommended her to the Tennessee County Services Association, a state-level advocacy group for county governments. She was in turn named by the state organization to NACo which subsequently approved her. Both state and county agencies usually take the recommendation of the county appointment, according to officials from those offices.
"Weve had some very good representatives from Tennessee," said Bob Wormsley, Tennessee County Services Association executive director. "Theyre recognized people in their field, and theyve done a really good job."
A Washington-based interest group, NACo lobbies federal officials and elected representatives on behalf of county governments, using policy proposals drawn up from 13 standing committees and approved at the associations annual conference.