Ellen Kugler, Esq., Executive Director

Ellen Kugler is NAUH's executive director, responsible for formulating the group's policy direction, developing legislative strategies, lobbying Congress and the administration, and managing the association. A key member of the NAUH staff since its founding in 1993, she is an expert in government health care policy, especially Medicare and Medicaid – the two issues that are most important to the association and its members. In addition to her in-depth knowledge of the nuances of Medicare and Medicaid policy, Ellen is an experienced lobbyist with extensive relationships on Capitol Hill and an outstanding track record for reaching key legislators and presenting persuasive and successful arguments on behalf of the needs of urban safety-net hospitals.

Ellen’s Washington career began on the staffs of prominent members of the health subcommittees of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She has now worked as a health policy consultant and lobbyist for nearly 20 years. A lawyer by training, Ellen is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and previously earned a bachelor's degree in political science and urban planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kate Finkelstein, Legislative Director

Kate Finkelstein is NAUH’s legislative director. In this role she monitors legislative developments of potential significance to urban safety-net hospitals and plays a key role in developing the association’s policy objectives and shaping the legislative strategies employed to achieve those objectives. As part of this work, Kate takes advantage of her extensive network of contacts on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress and the administration, with an emphasis on working very closely with key committee staff and the staff of members of Congress who have NAUH-member hospitals in their districts or states. She also is responsible for monitoring the activities of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Kate is the person on NAUH’s staff to whom member hospitals turn most often with questions about how various Medicare policies affect their organizations.

Kate earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University and a master’s degree in library and information science from Louisiana State University.

James A. Tomkins

James Tomkins directs NAUH's data analysis and policy development activities. He develops, manages, and employs vast databases that include extensive data for every acute-care hospital in the country. Jim uses this data to analyze the potential impact of federal budget proposals, proposed changes in Medicare payment policies, and proposed legislation on urban safety-net hospitals. In addition, he uses this data to lead NAUH’s own efforts to develop policy solutions to problems that better meet the needs of NAUH members and urban safety-net hospitals.

Jim has an extensive background in the health care field, working for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Hamot Medical Center, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He also served as director of data and information services for the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. Jim has bachelor's degrees in statistics and economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a master's degree in health services administration from Gannon University, and a master's degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Ben DeBrunner

Ben DeBrunner is NAUH’s policy analyst, focusing on federal policy and regulatory changes that affect urban safety-net hospitals. He monitors the release of federal regulations governing Medicare and Medicaid and analyzes those that have a potential impact on urban safety-net hospitals. In addition to annual regulations governing how Medicare will pay providers in the coming year, he is especially active in monitoring new regulations and policies issued as part of the implementation of health care reform and in guidelines governing the distribution of federal funds for health care information technology and electronic health records established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Ben monitors the policy-development endeavors of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and conveys information about new and proposed policies to NAUH members. He also works closely with NAUH internal technical advisory committees created periodically to enhance NAUH’s understanding of proposed federal policies and determine NAUH’s positions on those proposals. Ben graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts.