Meet Your 40 Under 40 Winner - Alina Czekai, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, Cohere Health

Sept. 14, 2023
Congratulations to Alina Czekai for being named to the inaugural Healthcare Innovation 40 Under 40 awards program!

Congratulations to 40 Under 40 Winner: Alina Czekai, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, Cohere Health

Get To Know Alina:

Age (as of December 31, 2023): 32

Hometown: Skaneateles, NY

Alma Matter: University of Rochester (undergraduate), George Washington University (graduate)

Number of Years of Experience in Healthcare: 12 years 

Someone You Look Up to in the Industry: Senator Bill Frist

Favorite Hobby: Exploring the Finger Lakes (Hiking, Wineries, Kayaking)

Favorite Movie of All-Time: Notting Hill

Favorite Band or Musician: Fleetwood Mac

Your Favorite thing about healthcare: It is a sector bringing together diverse backgrounds and expertises to innovate and improve lives. 

Why is this candidate a good fit for 40 under 40?

Alina Czekai would be an excellent candidate to include within Healthcare Innovation’s for 40 under 40 because of two very important reasons.  First, Alina’s exceptionally talented at breaking down complex healthcare policies for the private sector, and vice versa. With a background in government health policy, and has worked in various types of healthcare startups throughout her career, Alina has an uncanny ability to break down complex healthcare political and regulatory issues for leaders and innovators in the private sector. She also has a unique ability to frame the challenges facing innovators/companies to governmental leadership as a way to promote policy change and bridge the gap between government and industry.   The future of the U.S. healthcare system needs leaders who can bridge both the federal policy and private sector industries – and Alina is the epitome of being able to channel this divide. Whether it be during a brief to government officials, a podcast interview, on the floor of a trade show conference, speaking with a reporter, or pitching prospective customers or investors, Alina understands how best to convey relevant healthcare topics that resonate with the audience.    Second, Alina’s extremely committed to supporting the shift to value-based care within the industry. Alina’s passion for value-based care, healthcare quality, and health equity has led her to develop and advocate for solutions in both the public and private sectors to improve clinical and financial outcomes.  Within the federal government, Alina co-developed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center’s first-ever value-based care rural model. Within this program, Alina championed the need to support rural communities in their transition to volume-based care by providing federal funding, regulatory and operational flexibilities, and technical assistance for rural communities to transform their systems of care. Approximately 57 million Americans live in rural communities, including millions of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and they face unique challenges when seeking healthcare services, such as limited transportation options, shortages of healthcare services, and an inability to fully benefit from technological and care-delivery innovations. Alina has seen these challenges first-hand through the experiences of some of her family members — as she comes from a line of generational farmers in Upstate New York – and she was a staunch advocate of these delivery system improvements.

Explain this candidate’s professional accomplishments:

In her current role, Alina Czekai is responsible for Cohere Health’s solution development and go-to-market strategy as it relates to value-based care – solutions that will have a direct impact on lower costs and improved quality of patient care. She leads the company’s engagement with innovative companies on the cutting edge of taking the total cost of care risk on populations and has developed partnerships to drive these solutions forward.   During her federal government service at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a Senior Advisor to Administrator Seema Verma, Alina played an instrumental role in the agency’s response to COVID-19. Administrator Verma presented Alina with an award for her role as the agency’s liaison between the delivery system, other federal agencies, and the White House.  During the public health emergency, Alina launched a national call-in/live podcast series called Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19, which gave healthcare leaders on the front lines the opportunity to share their best practices to scale interventions at the national level. This series, created by Alina, was continued by the agency throughout the public health emergency and had thousands of participants each week.   Alina was a founding member of the American Health Policy Institute (AHPI), the nation’s first think tank dedicated to studying and publicizing healthcare challenges facing U.S. employers. She oversaw the organization’s development, growth, and public relations strategy. While at the Institute, Alina was also a co-founder of the Health Transformation Alliance (HTA), a collaborative effort of 50 of America's largest companies, representing seven million covered lives and a collective annual healthcare spend of $26 billion. Alina partnered with self-insured member companies to leverage the HTA’s combined purchasing power, collective expertise, and intel to drive conversations with providers and payers to accelerate innovation and competition in local markets.

How does the candidate show commitment to the industry and bettering their professional career?

While serving as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Cohere Health, Alina Czekai’s been an active thought leader on how state and federal regulations are impacting the healthcare industry. Alina’s authored multiple articles on CMS's proposed rule to advance interoperability and improve the prior authorization process.  Specifically, she’s written how the rule stipulates health plans adopt electronic prior authorization processes, adhere to shorter turnaround times, clearly communicate denial reasons, publish key metrics annually, and implement the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) Application Programming Interface (API). Her knowledge of the topic has led her to present on multiple occasions, and most recently, she was invited to speak at this year’s National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Health Innovation Summit in Orlando.  Alina was a Mercatus Center Frederic Bastiat Fellow, an award of distinction from a DC-based think tank focused on market-based approaches to policy innovation. She earned a BA in health policy with honors from the University of Rochester and an MPH with a focus in health policy from The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

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