Mike Donofrio has spent the first 20 years of his career as a litigator, counselor, and problem solver for a diverse array of clients with complex legal needs. From 2012-2016, Mr. Donofrio served as the first general counsel of the Green Mountain Care Board, an innovative, first-of-its-kind regulatory body created by Vermont’s landmark 2011 health care reform law. Tasked with improving health care quality, access, and affordability, the Board’s statutory charge includes traditional regulatory authority over insurers and providers as well as the authority to shape and promote innovation in health care payment and delivery. Mr. Donofrio addressed the Board’s myriad legal needs, from contracting and personnel matters to regulatory process design and rule-making to litigation. He also helped shape the organization’s strategic direction as part of its leadership team, constructed and implemented its regulatory framework, and represented it in the Vermont Legislature.
Before his tenure at the Board, Mr. Donofrio represented Vermont state agencies and officials in a wide array of complex matters: leading a team that successfully prevented cigarette companies from clawing back millions of dollars in a multistate arbitration under the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement; representing the state in complex constitutional litigation; and representing utility regulators in federal multidistrict litigation regarding state authority to investigate whether telecoms were improperly sharing data with intelligence agencies.
A graduate of South Burlington High School, Mr. Donofrio returned to Vermont with his family in 2004, and spent two years clerking for Justice Marilyn Skoglund of the Vermont Supreme Court. Before that, he taught legal writing and research at Brooklyn Law School for two years and spent six years working on complex civil and white-collar criminal litigation at two New York City law firms. He earned his law degree from New York University in 1995 and graduated from Williams College in 1991 with a B.A. in math and philosophy.
Mr. Donofrio routinely serves as lead trial and appellate counsel in a wide range of complex and high-profile disputes. The matters below are representative of his experience.
Regulatory Process Design
By statute, the Board assumed control of Vermont’s pre-existing health insurance rate, certificate of need, and hospital budget review processes. In each instance, Mr. Donofrio led the effort to transition each function to the Board and to tailor each to the Board’s novel statutory charge. This entailed drafting rules, engaging with stakeholders, and navigating the rule-making process. The outcome was a set of clear regulations that enabled the Board to successfully take on and implement these regulatory processes.
Delivery and Payment System Reform
The Board’s unique statutory charge empowers it not only regulate, but to innovate. Mr. Donofrio advised the Board on the scope and contours of this authority and supported the payment reform team in adopting a policy governing the Board’s review or proposed reform pilot projects. He also advised the Board during its negotiations with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that resulted in the Vermont All-Payer Accountable Care Organization Model Agreement. This unique arrangement allows Vermont to move away from fee-for-service reimbursement for health care providers by aligning Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers through a statewide, Vermont-specific alternative payment model focused on health outcomes.
Mr. Donofrio served as lead counsel for Vermont in this complex arbitration concerning the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the U.S’s largest cigarette manufacturers. After discovery, the manufacturers dismissed their claim against Vermont, preserving over $25 million of Vermont’s 2003 MSA payment.
Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee v. Shumlin
Mr. Donofrio defended Vermont in its dispute with Entergy over continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, a case that addressed the preemptive scope of the Atomic Energy Act.
Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc.
Mr. Donofrio represented Vermont in this First Amendment challenge to a state law restricting datamining used for pharmaceutical marketing. (Petitioner’s Brief)
In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Record Litigation
Mr. Donofrio represented Vermont in this multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of California concerning states’ efforts to investigate alleged disclosures of confidential customer data by telecoms to intelligence agencies, the preemptive scope of federal law in matters of national security, and the application of state secrets doctrine.
In the News
Stris & Maher Opens Vermont Office
April 7, 2017
Stris & Maher Files Complaint on Behalf of Healthcare Providers Against Health Net
July 12, 2016
Stris & Maher Represents Vermont in Landmark Preemption Case Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual
November 20, 2015
Stris & Maher Successfully Assists Vermont in Obtaining Certiorari in Landmark Preemption Case
June 30, 2015
Trade Press Explains the Importance of Stris & Maher and Vermont’s Gobeille Cert Petition
December 18, 2014
Supreme Court to Hear Third Stris & Maher Case of 2015
June 30, 2015
Supreme Court to Hear Another Stris & Maher Case
June 29, 2015