Aetna (NYSE: AET), a leading global health care solutions company, has appointed Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., 38, as president of the Aetna Foundation, the company’s independent philanthropic arm, effective immediately. A national expert on health disparities and health care quality, Graham served as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during both the Bush and Obama administrations.
“As a physician, policy maker and health services researcher, Dr. Graham brings a deep understanding of today’s health care issues, particularly those affecting minority and underserved populations. With Dr. Graham at the helm of the Aetna Foundation, we will continue to play a pivotal role in using philanthropy to get to the root causes of health inequities and develop new approaches to improve the lives of people in America’s diverse communities,” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna’s chairman, CEO and president, and chairman of the Aetna Foundation.
“Aetna’s commitment to quality health care for underserved communities is impressive,” said Graham. “I am honored to lead the Aetna Foundation and further its work to enhance quality health care practices and improve public health.”
For more than 10 years, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have worked to address health issues that are more common among various racial and ethnic groups. Aetna was among the first insurers to collect race and ethnicity information from its members to find opportunities to create culturally appropriate programs to improve their care. The Aetna Foundation focuses much of its grant making on combating health inequities. The Foundation’s initiatives include increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for people living in low-income neighborhoods, diversifying the health care professions, and prenatal care for at-risk expectant mothers.Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $427 million in grants and sponsorships, including more than $14.6 million awarded in 2012. Prior to joining Aetna, Graham was assistant dean for health policy and chief of health services research at the University of Florida School of Medicine in Gainesville. There, he served as principal investigator on a number of grants and initiatives looking at innovative approaches, such as tele-health, home-based care and coordinated medical teams, to improve the health outcomes for underserved and hard-to-reach populations.