Acting Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health
On May 12, 2020, Governor Lamont appointed Dr. Gifford to serve as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH). This appointment took effect immediately and is in addition to her continuing role as DSS Commissioner.
Dr. Deidre S. Gifford began service as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) in June 2019, after appointment by Governor Ned Lamont. Commissioner Gifford joined state government from the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, and has wide experience in medical practice, non-profit advocacy and government service.
Prior to beginning service in Connecticut, Commissioner Gifford was Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2016. Before joining CMS, she served as the Director of State Policy and Programs at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, where she led that organization’s efforts with states to support and advance value-based purchasing in Medicaid.
From 2012 to 2015, Commissioner Gifford served as Medicaid Director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, having previously served as the agency’s medical director. During her tenure, she advanced changes in the payment and delivery system to improve the quality of care and enhance the value of Medicaid services, including the development of numerous initiatives in care coordination, information technology, and provider payment innovations.
Commissioner Gifford was co-founder and Project Director of Rhode Island’s multi-payer Medical Home demonstration, one of the nation’s first and most enduring multi-payer payment reform initiatives. She was also the Director of Healthcare Policy and Programs for Rhode Island’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.
A graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, Commissioner Gifford received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York. She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, and received a master of public health degree in epidemiology from UCLA.
In his appointment announcement in June 2019, Governor Lamont said: “The Department of Social Services provides an incredibly important function to the people of our state, and it is time to accelerate the pace of innovation and change in the agency. I want to refocus our energy to improve the delivery of these services utilizing innovative tools that increase the value and outcomes for consumers while also producing cost-saving efficiencies for the agency. This is exactly what drew my attention to Dr. Gifford – she has many years of experience doing exactly this both on the state and federal level. I am excited that she has agreed to come to Connecticut and help reform these efforts here – her input is going to be a big benefit as we move forward in these streamlining endeavors.”
In the announcement, Commissioner Gifford said: “I am grateful to Governor Lamont for the opportunity to serve the people of Connecticut in this important role…I look forward to working with the Governor and Lt. Governor, and collaborating with my fellow commissioners to improve the lives and health of the women, men, children, and families served by DSS. It is becoming clear that improving the health of our communities requires an approach that looks beyond the traditional silos of social services. Under Governor Lamont’s leadership, Connecticut has a unique opportunity to enhance the coordination and efficiency of government services in truly innovative ways that will make a real difference.”