June 5, 2019 at 5:51 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Catania named co-chair of new D.C. health commission
David Catania, candidates, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay former D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) was named co-chair of a newly created 27-member mayoral commission on health care reform. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on June 3 announced she has appointed gay former D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) as co-chair of a newly created 27-member mayoral commission to develop recommendations for improving health care “delivery” for all city residents.

Also named by the mayor to serve on the commission is Don Blanchon, executive director of Whitman-Walker Health, the city’s largest private health center that provides patient care and services for the LGBT community and people with HIV.

At a June 3 news conference Bowser said the Mayor’s Commission on Healthcare Systems Transformation is intended to help her and her administration make major improvements in health care for city residents.

“The District’s health care system is at a critical juncture,” she said. “While our city is resource-rich in the kinds of health care we can offer residents, utilization of and access to those resources is not equitable. Together, with the support of this commission, we’re going to change that and ensure that Washingtonians in every corner of D.C. are getting the care they need and live healthy, happy lives.”

Catania, who spoke at the news conference, praised Bowser for her efforts to address healthcare needs for city residents. Catania has served in the past as chair of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Health and has been credited with pushing through legislation that has helped the city greatly reduce the number of residents who lacked health insurance coverage.

His appointment to the commission comes five years after he gave up his Council seat to run for mayor in the 2014 general election as an independent candidate against Bowser, who won the election by a wide margin.

Bowser also named former mayor and current D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) to the new commission as an ex-officio member. Bowser defeated then Mayor Gray in the 2014 Democratic mayoral primary.

The other co-chair that Bowser appointed for the new commission to work with Catania is Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

In her June 3 announcement the mayor said she has asked the commission to develop its recommendations over the next six months and to present them to her later this year.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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