Rodgers was powerful advocate for health care for vulnerable

March 1, 2022

As chief of the advocacy department at CHA and in his earlier work, Michael Rodgers devoted his career to shaping and advancing health policy that would benefit those who are poor and vulnerable, including the young and the old.

"I think of the many, many things that he played a role in, he would be most pleased and proud of the fact that we were instrumental in helping to get the Affordable Care Act and then able to protect it when Congress and the White House tried to destroy it," said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, retired CHA president and chief executive officer.

Rodgers died Feb. 13 at age 73. He had retired as CHA's senior vice president of advocacy and public policy in February 2019 after almost 20 years with the organization.

Prior to coming to CHA, Rodgers was senior vice president of government relations and advocacy for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, now called LeadingAge. He'd worked at that organization for 14 years helping develop legislative strategies to restore federal funding for nursing facilities after cuts related to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

Before that, he was staff director of the Subcommittee on Housing and Consumer Interests for the Select Committee on Aging of the U.S. House of Representatives and a member of the senior professional staff of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Rodgers was a past board chair of the charitable organization Support Our Aging Religious.

In addition to helping lead CHA's work to support passage of the ACA, which was enacted in March 2010, Rodgers was a major force behind the association's effort to secure, and then protect, funding for children's health insurance expansion.

Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, CHA president and chief executive officer, said of Rodgers: "God gifted Mike with deep faith and a passion for justice, and he always put those gifts in service to others."

Sr. Carol said that Rodgers was not rigid or sanctimonious in how his devotion to Catholicism guided his work. "He had an incredibly deep faith, but it was a warm faith, and it was a faith that took the very best of teachings of the church and applied them so well to the realities of life and how we all want to do the right thing," she said.

Sr. Patricia Talone, RSM, retired from CHA in 2016 as the vice president of mission services. She said Rodgers "loved meeting new people and making connections and it was that personality trait in him, that outgoingness, that I think made him so good in advocacy."

Lisa Smith, who reported to Rodgers and then succeeded him as CHA's vice president of advocacy and public policy, added: "Mike's health policy expertise and charisma made him a well-known leader in Washington, but it was his sincerity and kindness that built the relationships to move important legislation through Congress. He was a true statesman."

Julie Trocchio, CHA's senior director of community benefit and continuing care, said Rodgers was "a born networker."

"He was very popular on the Hill, and with consumer organizations and with provider organizations," Trocchio said. "There aren't too many people you can say that of."

Sr. Carol recalled: "On an ordinary day, he made life a lot more fun. On a really tough day, he made life bearable and workable."

Rodgers is survived by his wife, Maryellen, and five children and their families.

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