About Kathleen Gmeiner

Background and Experiences

Kathleen’s passion for health care goes back to 1983 when she became the “Health”  Attorney at Michigan Legal Services (MLS).  At MLS she became a Medicaid expert and trained and consulted with legal service attorneys and paralegals across the state. She litigated precedent-establishing cases that expanded the number of people in Michigan who were eligible for Medicaid.

When Kathleen decided she would never “litigate her way to universal health care,” she decided to go back to school and study health policy. She got a Masters in Health Services Administration in 1994.

For three years in the late 90’s she directed the Comprehensive Community Health Models (CCHMs) of St. Clair County (Michigan), a W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF)-funded project in three Michigan counties bringing together providers, consumers, payers and local government to shape the health system in the county with an aim to provide better care at lower cost. 

From 2000-2006 Kathleen assisted Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in carrying out health assessments, planning and grant writing. At the Ohio Department of Health Kathleen assisted communities in preparing applications for Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA’s) and reviewed Medically Underserved Area applications.

In 2007 as a consultant Kathleen led the newly formed Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage (OCHC) through a grant-writing process that resulted in UHCAN Ohio receiving a three-year $750,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Voices for Coverage grant. UHCAN Ohio hired her to lead the project.

She nurtured the coalition as it led a “Fix It Now” and then a “Build It Now” campaign in Ohio to reform the pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) health system with its limitations on benefits and eligibility. Between 2008 and 2017 Kathleen was at the center of UHCAN Ohio’s and OCHC’s work campaigning for passage of the ACA, educating consumers about the ACA, seeking implementation at the state level, providing enrollment assistance to consumers, and protecting the ACA through two Supreme Court campaigns, and most recently opposing Republican efforts to repeal the ACA.

From 2012 through 2015 Kathleen was a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners where she joined 20+ other consumers to attend thrice yearly NAIC meetings. She served on the Consumer Information Subgroup of the Health Committee and provided testimony and comments on issues critical to consumers.

For three years while at UHCAN Ohio Kathleen built the Finally Somebody Asked Me! campaign to expand the use of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in youth settings (2014-2017). While directing that project she served on the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Public Policy Committee to support Ohio’s SBIRT project.  In addition, Kathleen worked with national partners and UHCAN Ohio staff to develop a training tool for consumers to be trained to serve on Patient Family Advisory Councils

Kathleen is a non-practicing attorney, licensed in the states of Ohio and Michigan. She spent 14 years working for three legal services programs (Toledo, Detroit) (1976-1978; 1980-1992).

Kathleen's latest articles.

Don’t Adjust Poverty Levels with Chained CPI

These comments were filed by Kathleen Gmeiner on June 21, 2019 with the federal Office of Management and Budget. Thanks to the Georgetown Center for Children and Families (CCF) and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) who provided much of the material on which these comments were based. The CCF comments can be found

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Franklin County Poverty Reduction Blueprint Solid with Room to Improve

In early June 2019 the Franklin County Commission released Rise Together: A Blueprint to Reduce Poverty in Franklin County at http://bit.ly/2XIRFqs, following nearly a year of gathering information and working with stakeholders.  It began a public process of taking the plan to the community in a series of public meetings.  These comments were prepared by Kathleen

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Census, Citizenship Question in Turmoil

This blog was originally posted in March, 2018. Since then, the lawsuit challenging the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census  has been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court ruled on June 27, 2019 that the question could not be included in the census because the Court found the justification

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Kathleen combines a passion for justice and a vision of a people-centered health care system with an exhaustive knowledge of the subject matter.  She is particularly adept at empowering consumers to share their stories of how health reform has helped them.

– Cathy Levine, former UHCAN Ohio Executive Director