Aug. 15, 2012 – Karen Timberlake is the recipient of the 2012 Health Law Attorney of the Year Award. This award, which recognizes a lawyer for contributions to the preservation and enhancement of the health and life of the people of Wisconsin, is presented by the Health Law Section. Timberlake will receive the award on Aug. 23 at the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® Health, Labor, and Employment Law Institute in Wisconsin Dells.
Improving Health and the Health Care System
As the director of the Population Health Institute at the U.W. School of Medicine and Public Health, Timberlake leads the institute in bridging public health and health policy research and implementation into practice. Working with diverse public health and health policy practitioners and stakeholders in Wisconsin and nationally, the institute advances public health and health policy decisions that improve the health of the people of Wisconsin and the nation.
Timberlake also serves as the director of the partnerships for Healthcare Payment Reform, a project of the Wisconsin Health Information Organization, which seeks to improve quality and efficiency in health care by reforming reimbursement to better align the incentives of payers, providers, employers, and patients. The group connects health care providers, insurers, and employers to create innovative pilot projects to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Wisconsin.
Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 – A Work in Progress
As the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for nearly three years, Timberlake led key health initiatives, including co-chairing the state’s Office of Health Care Reform, developing a plan for statewide health information exchange, expanding access to affordable health care through BadgerCare Plus, and advancing policies to improve the overall health status of the people of Wisconsin. Her collaborative approach led to the success of major department initiatives including development of the state’s health plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020.
Under Timberlake’s leadership, the department transformed the process of determining eligibility for benefits for people in Milwaukee County. As a result, low-income families and disabled persons have more timely access to health care and food, and fewer people are wrongly denied benefits. She also led the department in tackling a number of public health issues, ranging from expanding farm-to-school programs, reducing childhood obesity, improving birth outcomes for at-risk mothers in urban areas, and expanding screening for alcohol and drug abuse.
When announcing Timberlake’s appointment to her current position, Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the U.W. School of Medicine and Public Health said, “During Karen’s tenure as secretary, she led innovative efforts to improve the health status of all the people of Wisconsin, earning a reputation as a bright and well respected leader with a rich knowledge of both medical care and public health issues.” Steve Brenton, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, noted, “Karen understands how to build consensus across the private and public sectors to address today’s pressing population health challenges with evidence-based strategies.”
It Wasn’t Always About Health Care
Before joining DHS in 2008, she was the director of the Office of State Employment Relations, an assistant attorney general with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and deputy administrator of the Division of Legal Services. She received her JD from Harvard in 1995.
The award will be presented at 12 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23, during the Health, Labor, and Employment Law Institute.