Colette Desmarais has nearly two decades of experience in the health care arena. Colette assists Breakaway Policy Strategies clients in analyzing the impact of policy proposals and developing policy recommendations, legislative language and agency regulatory comments.
Since 2003, Colette has served as a principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. where she developed and helped execute effective advocacy strategies before Congress, the Executive Branch and Federal Agencies.
Colette came to Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. from Capitol Hill where she served as a top health policy aide to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. During her tenure with the Finance Committee, she worked on a series of high profile Medicare initiatives including the Medicare prescription drug benefit and Medicare Advantage programs. Colette played an integral role in defeating legislation that would have established price controls on medicines under Medicare. She also led Senator Grassley’s work to expand the availability of long-term care insurance included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Prior to serving on the Finance Committee, Colette held a number of positions in the private sector. She led the federal government relations department of the Group Health Cooperative, a non-profit Seattle-based health care system. During development of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), she participated in successful efforts leading to the adoption of payment policies, as well as other policies of importance to Group Health.
Colette also served in a variety of positions with the American Association of Health Plans (currently America’s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP) including as deputy director of the association’s public programs policy unit, where her responsibilities included oversight of Medicare, Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) matters. Earlier in her career, Colette was an associate with the Managed Care Practice at the Lewin Group. She also worked as a legislative assistant for the late Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island.
Colette earned her bachelor’s degree from Smith College and her Masters of Public Health from Yale University.