Concord Monitor Profile: Cinde Warmington

Cinde Warmington seated at a table in her office consulting with a younger couple

Amid the continued threat of COVID-19 and the financial certainty of budget cuts, the landscape for any new political leader in 2021 is grim. But Cinde Warmington says she’s the perfect candidate for a national health crisis.

The Concord attorney hasn’t just dabbled in health care contracts; she’s been intimately involved in them. As a partner at Shaheen and Gordon, Warmington has specialized in negotiating and securing contracts for providers in New Hampshire. She knows what counts as a good state investment and what is administrative bloat, she says.

Much of Warmington’s life has been tied the health profession. From an early career drawing blood to a later role as a health care administrator, Warmington had her feet firmly planted in the medical side of the business long before she took on the legal side.

Now, with COVID-19 still a formidable presence, the way New Hampshire structures its health care system to meet the threat and recover for it takes paramount importance. For instance, the state has embraced telehealth, Warmington notes.

“We saw all the barriers that were placed before in the delivery of telehealth just fall down overnight,” she said. But she said that politicians in the Legislature and the Council need to work to make sure that that expansion is not permanent.

The continuing existence of prior authorizations – an approval mechanism that can create a barrier to patients receiving care – is another thing the state needs to look at re-evaluating, just as the state’s Medicaid managed care organizations need to stop changing the drug formularies: the lists that dictate what medications will be made available to Medicaid recipients.

Each of these areas might seem small, but they make monumental differences to those in the hospital. And the change can start from the Executive Council, Warmington says.

“Those are just a few examples how we’re really going to look at these contracts from a different perspective, but we can only do that if we’re able to ask the questions earlier in the process,” she said.

This is Warmington’s most ambitious campaign pledge: a vow to change the way contracts are developed. Rather than waiting for the governor and his departments to set the agenda by choosing the contracts and putting them out to bid without initial input from the council, Executive Councilors should be much more involved. They should work with the departments months in advance to help craft the contracts and lay out the criteria, she added.

Warmington has extensive political roots, currently serving as the head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s standing committee, with previous involvement in the Belknap County Democrats. But it’s her health care background that she says is what deserves her the District 2 seat.

“We are going to be rebuilding from a pandemic,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of contracting and a lot of work that needs to be done. And having someone with a health care background is a great asset to the state.

Read Ethan DeWitt’s piece for the Concord Monitor here.