John O’Brien

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

The work of the Vitality Institute Commission is inspiring because it brings together more than just the usual suspects and looks at how to solve health challenges through evidence-based solutions applicable across sectors. We want to be catalysts of progress – and this is a first step in the right direction.


John Michael O’Brien is Vice President of Public Policy at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest health insurer. Dr. O’Brien leads federal and state government and regulatory affairs related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the company’s 3.4 million members. He also supports the company’s delivery system reform efforts, including extending its Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program to 25,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

Before joining CareFirst, John was Acting Director of the division of strategic partnerships at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. At CMS he led a team of public affairs and health insurance specialists charged with educating Americans about the Affordable Care Act and expanding enrollment in federal health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. As a senior adviser with the CMS Innovation Center, John also drafted and reviewed regulations and made strategic recommendations related to the implementation of those provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

At the heart of his professional experience is a nearly five-year stint with Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, one of the largest industry lobbying groups in the country. At PhRMA, Dr. O’Brien honed his skills in industry advocacy, public policy and media relations as the group’s senior director for state policy. John is an MPH graduate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has a doctor of pharamcy (PharmD) degree from Nova Southeastern University, and studied pharmacy and public policy at the University of Florida.


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